The eagle had a fishing hook through his beak and a fishing line wrapped around his wing.
Bald Eagle Saved by Firefighters
Credit: Pasco County Fire Rescue

Florida firefighters helped save the life of a beloved national symbol earlier this month.

The saga began on January 7 with a knock on the door of Pasco County Fire Rescue Station 21. Firefighters were surprised to find two children holding an injured bald eagle on their doorstep.

"The eagle was tired, and its beak was wrapped in fishing line. After closer examination, firefighters realized that the eagle was underweight, a fishing hook was through his beak, and a fishing line was wrapped around his wing. The line was preventing the eagle from eating and flying." the station explained on Facebook, estimating that the bird had been wrapped in the line for about two days.

Pasco firefighters called Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife in nearby Odessa for assistance.

The sanctuary's founder and director, Kris Potter, was able to successfully remove the hook allowing the "extremely emaciated and weak" eagle to eat again.

"He's chomping down all his meals with great enthusiasm and doesn't leave a crumb behind," the sanctuary wrote on Facebook. "In the meantime, this big guy is resting and recuperating—he's already looking so much better!"

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After he was stabilized, the eagle was taken to Busch Gardens in Tampa for further treatment.

After a week in the care of the veterinarians at Busch Gardens in Tampa, the eagle was released back into the wild near Pasco County Fire Rescue Station 21.

"He was definitely ready to head back to his mate when the door was open," the sanctuary noted alongside photo of his release.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida has one of the densest concentrations of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states, with an estimated 1,500 nesting pairs.

Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife used the eagle's story to remind the public to properly dispose of their fishing gear.

"As a reminder, please discard of all fishing gear appropriately!" the sanctuary warned. "This is such a common problem we see in rescue and one that can be completely avoided!"