Bald eagle rescue

David Meadows of Street rescued this bald eagle, which was hung up in fishing line Saturday and caught in the trees in Susquehanna State Park. (Photo courtesy of David Meadows / The Aegis / May 13, 2014)

David Meadows, of Street, was fishing for white perch before dawn Saturday in Susquehanna State Park outside Havre de Grace.

Meadows, 51, found a spot along the Susquehanna River, just upstream from where Deer Creek meets the river, and put his line in the water. Soon he heard a strange sound.

"I could hear something rustling in the trees behind me," he recalled Monday.

Meadows turned back to his fishing, but when he heard the rustling again, he turned to look and saw a "full-grown male bald eagle about 9 feet off the ground."

The eagle was hung up in the trees, its wings tangled in fishing line.

Meadows contacted the Maryland Natural Resources Police, calling the emergency line, 410-260-8888, printed on his fishing license.

He said the dispatcher told him officers only handle such calls Monday through Friday and referred him to the Phoenix Wildlife Center in Baltimore County.

"I was just a little distressed to know nobody was going to come," Meadows said.

With his smartphone, Meadows snapped a picture of the eagle in the tree. He said several blackbirds landed on nearby limbs, and the eagle tried to free himself.

While he was on the phone with the dispatcher, the eagle fell to the ground with the fishing line wrapped around its head, feet and wings, Meadows said.

He approached the eagle and threw his rain jacket over the raptor's head.

"I was a little sketchy about it, because he was really big," Meadows recalled.

He said the eagle struggled at first, but calmed down after about two minutes. Meadows took the fishing line off the bird and then removed his jacket from the eagle's head.

He said the eagle "just kind of stood there and looked at me" for a moment and then flew away.

Meadows said he called the NRP line at 5:47 a.m. Saturday, and he called Phoenix three minutes later.

He said he got a voicemail message, which directed him to another number; he left a message at that number, as well.

He got a call back later Saturday from a Phoenix staffer, who thanked him for his efforts.

The Phoenix Wildlife Center is a nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation facility in Jacksonville, which has permits to take care of various forms of wildlife, including migratory birds and mammals, according to Director Kathleen Woods.

"People bring us [animals] every day, every single day," she said Tuesday.

Woods said Phoenix works with the Natural Resources Police on a regular basis.