Dead Bald Eagle Found With Talons Stuck In Deer Skull

A fox lying on the ground with dead leaves
Neal Hermann

A Wisconsin turkey hunter stumbled upon one of the more absurd scenes that mother nature has ever painted.

Just this morning, Neal Herrman shot a turkey at daybreak, and then he moved locations to Dunn County and began scouting for his next hunt. The turkey he shot wasn’t the only dead bird he saw today though.

According to Outdoor Life, he also found a dead bald eagle with its talons stuck in the skull of a dead deer fawn:

“I was easing along, looking for turkeys, and happened to glance out into a cut cornfield and spotted something white.

I couldn’t figure what it was, so put my binoculars on it, and it looked like a bird of some type. So I walked over to take a better look.

When I got close I saw it was a mature, dead bald eagle. And its talons—both feet—were locked solidly into the skull of a mostly decomposed fawn-size deer.

For sure one of the crazier things I’ve come across while out hunting. Eagle is in the Department of Natural Resources hands now.”

For sure one of the crazier things I’ve come across while out hunting. Eagle is in the DNR’s hands now

Posted by Neal Herrman on Wednesday, May 26, 2021

There were no tell tail signs for what caused it’s demise, but there is speculation that the birds talons got buried so deeply into the deer’s skull that it couldn’t pry them loose.

The bird could have potentially died while trying to free its feet, or perhaps starved to death by being unable to hunt with its claws permanently stuck in the deer carcass.

“A DNR officer thought that because the deer was so deteriorated it was likely a 2- or 3-day old road kill, and the eagle had picked it up at a nearby well-traveled road.

A vehicle strike may have injured the eagle as it flew off with the decomposed small deer, but I didn’t see any damage to its wings, legs or anywhere else. And I don’t think it was dead for more than a day.”

Hermann, whose day job is making custom turkey calls Hooks Custom Calls, has seen a lot of things in the woods but he knew this was something he needed to report to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

After getting permission from the DNR to move the bird, Hermann and his brother in law placed the dead eagle in a truck and delivered it to a nearby DNR office.

Getting permission from DNR to be in possession of the bird was a smart move on his part.

The species is federally protected under the Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act which provides criminal penalties for persons who “take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or any manner, any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior.”

Given the circumstances the DNR was able to grant him permission to relocate the bird to their possession.

DNR biologists will run a series of tests on the bird to see if they can gain more insights on the potential cause of death.

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