TRAVERSE CITY — An adult bald eagle that swooped down to carry off a roadkill rabbit became another road casualty when its flight crossed paths with a motorist's van in Grand Traverse County.
Timothy Lyon, a wildlife technician with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said it appears the raptor died instantly this morning. A van struck the bird on U.S. 31 near Silver Pines Road south of Traverse City.
"The eagle had come down and it was attempting to pick up a rabbit that had been hit in the road," Lyon said. "And it got the rabbit and couldn't get up fast enough and was struck by a vehicle."
Lyon said a Grand Traverse County sheriff's deputy delivered the deceased eagle to DNR biologists. He doesn't believe authorities will pursue charges against the motorist.
"It's not a common occurrence, but with the increase in the eagle population, obviously we have more vehicle incidents or accidents," he said.
Steve Griffith, a wildlife biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Traverse City office, said officials likely will perform a necropsy on the eagle at a Michigan State University lab.
Biologists will use samples from the necropsy to test for lead and other chemicals the eagle may have picked up from Great Lakes fish.
Lyon said wildlife technicians don't know much about the bird's age or territory because it didn't have an attached information band.
"Based on the size, I believe it's a female," he said. "Females are typically larger than males. It was an adult."
Lyon said dead eagles typically are sent to a national repository in Colorado, from which their remains will be sent to Native American tribes for use in ceremonies and other traditional practices.