Florida Crews Rescue Internet-Famous Eaglet Caught in Fishing Line

After two attempts, firefighters and wildlife specialists were able to free R2, one of Ron and Rita’s two surviving eaglets, from an entanglement.  

R2 Eaglet
Photo: Ron Magill

We've been enraptured with Ron and Rita, a bald eagle couple residing in Florida's Miami-Dade County, since they first burst onto our livestreams in March of 2021. Thanks to a 24-7 livestream managed by the Wildlife Rescue of Dade County as part of the Ron Magill Conservation Endowment, we've had the privilege of having an up-close-and-personal view into the lives of the famous pair. We've been there for all the ups and downs of life in the wild, including the incredible birth of the couple's three eaglets earlier this year, and the loss of the youngest just a day after it hatched.

Recently, the livestream proved to be a blessing to not only wildlife lovers across the globe but to the majestic bald eagles themselves. On Friday, Wildlife Rescue staff noticed that eaglet R2 had gotten her foot caught in a monofilament fishing line that likely came attached to a fish Ron and Rita brought into the nest for dinner.

R2 Eaglet
Ron Magill

"This was preventing her from being able to fledge and had the potential of causing serious injury or even death," Ron Magill, wildlife conservationist, photographer, and Zoo Miami's communications director for whom Ron the eagle was named, wrote in a Facebook post detailing the rescue mission.

Officials determined that emergency intervention was necessary to free R2 from the line and remove the excess from the nest so none of the other eagles became caught later. Magill, along with Lloyd Brown of the Wildlife Rescue of Dade County and Lt. Craig Thornton from the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, were able to use a firetruck to reach the nest located 85-feet in the air. Their presence caused R2 to flee, and the strength of her flight broke the line.

"It was her first flight from the nest, and it was beautiful," Magill said.

With R2 gone, the team worked to remove the remaining line from the nest. Later that day, crews discovered that while the strength of R2's flight broke the monofilament line tethering her to the nest, a significant portion of the line remained wrapped around her foot. Fortunately, she was found in a nearby yard, and wildlife specialist Brown was able to capture her with a net, remove the line from her foot, and monitor her overnight for any injuries. Brown said that at just three months old, R2 is already one of the biggest eaglets he's ever handled.

R2 Eaglet
Ron Magill

On Sunday, R2 was successfully returned to her nest to rejoin her family. "Thankfully, she remained in the nest and shortly after we reached the ground and packed up our gear, Rita returned to the nest to be alongside of R2 (it is a myth that birds will reject their offspring if they are touched by a human)! At last check, R2 remains calm in the nest with Ron, Rita, and R1 perched nearby," Magill said in a follow-up post.

WATCH: Live Camera Invites Viewers Into Lives of Nesting Bald Eagle Couple on Hilton Head Island

We're happy to hear our favorite raptor family is safe, sound, and back together again!

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