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Bald eagle sitting on the side of a highway stops traffic, causes 2 crashes

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It's not every day you see a bald eagle on your way to work. And it's downright rare to see one sitting on the side of the road.

So motorists on Highway 53 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, were in for a surprise Wednesday morning when they saw a bald eagle doing just that, WEAU reports.

Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said the bird, which had been injured, was standing over the carcass of a raccoon. Officers who responded couldn't tell if the bird could fly or not, but it didn't move around even with all the attention it attracted.

The sight of the majestic bird along the highway caused some traffic backups as drivers slowed down to get a good look, KARE 11 reports.

Cramer said two accidents occurred because gawkers were more intent on looking at the bird than keeping their eyes on the road, according to WEAU.

Sheriff's officials redirected traffic and then called the Wisconsin DNR, which safely removed the bird and took it to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota for evaluation.

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Bald eagle sightings in Minnesota and Wisconsin are a lot more common than they used to be, even in urban areas, as the birds' population continues to increase.

A similar rescue took place in August, when an injured eagle was found along a Highway 7 in Hopkins.

And in July, a juvenile bald eagle created a bit of a stir in Montevideo, when it decided to perch on top of a vehicle at a used car lot for several hours.

The bald eagle's comeback

The bald eagle's recovery from endangered status is one of America’s greatest wildlife success stories.

A bald eagle that hatched near Bemidji back in 1977 became part of the recovery by re-establishing the species in western New York’s Finger Lakes region. That bird was found dead in June at the ripe old age of 38, making him the country’s oldest known eagle.

Minnesota has over 2,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the state, the DNR notes. Only Florida and Alaska have more bald eagles.

You can learn more about bald eagles – and get an up-close look at one – by visiting the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.

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