Bald eagle dies after train collision in Harrisburg

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 3, 2015 4:33 AM

Photo by Screenshot from Tracy Spencer's video

The bald eagle was lodged in the front of the locomotive of a train from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg March 19th.

(Harrisburg) -- Amtrak trains sometimes hit wildlife while journeying through the state, but on a recent trip, one killed a federally protected species.

When the Amtrak train rolled into the Harrisburg station, workers called the state Game Commission after discovering a bald eagle lodged in the front of the locomotive.

In most cases, agency spokesman Travis Lau says it would send an officer to assist.

But he says this was considered an emergency.

"Time was of the essence in this incident. There was an injured eagle, certainly we're going to try to rehabilitate that bird, or get that bird to a licensed rehabilitator to try to save it," he says.

A video circulated on Facebook shows Amtrak workers picking the bird up by its talons and trying to place it in a cardboard box, which required moving around the bird's wings.

Lau says the commission reviewed the video after WITF brought it to its attention, but doesn't plan any further action.

"There is that heightened sensitivity. There's the possibility even in disturbing eagles, much less handling them that there are federal repercussions and stiff penalties because of that federal protection," adds Lau.

The bird eventually died, after receiving treatment at a specialized hospital in Schuylkill County.

In a statement, Amtrak says it worked with the Game Commission to get the injured bird to officers quickly.

The Game Commission recently issued a citation to a woman who took a TV crew too close to the much-watched bald eagle nest in York County.

The reporter and cameraman received warnings.

Amtrak's full statement is below: 

Amtrak employees in Harrisburg were saddened to learn that the Bald Eagle that came into contact with one of our trains did not survive. When the train arrived in Harrisburg, Amtrak Police contacted the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The bird was removed from the train and quickly transferred to Commission representatives in Harrisburg who are better equipped to treat injured animals.

Amtrak is committed to operating the national passenger railroad system in a safer, greener and healthier manner in full compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations and with practices that increase efficiency, reduce environmental impacts and promote the sustainable use of resources. Our environmental commitment is based on the principles of compliance, leadership and stewardship.

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