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Thursday, 23 August, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Terror beach eagle captured
Bald eagle attacking child
A child was injured as the eagle swooped on a game of football
A bald eagle that had been menacing beach-goers in New Hampshire since Friday has been captured.

The eagle had spent days swooping on balls and people as they played on the sand, and on Tuesday it clawed a young girl.

Other beaches have sharks, but at Hampton, we had to be different - we had to get an attack eagle

Peter MacKinnon, animal control officer
Police said the bird was finally caught by an animal control officer in Salisbury, Massachusetts, near the New Hampshire border and was taken to the local Coastal Animal Clinic.

Through photographs the eagle, which has a 6 ft (1.8 m) wingspan, was identified as a bird that had been released from wildlife reserve in North Carolina.

During its spell at the beach, the bird attacked three-year-old Kayla Finn as she was playing football with two other children.

Her father had to run and shoo the bird away as it made a grab for the child. She was scratched, but did not require medical treatment after the incident.

Two adults were also slightly injured during the eagle's stay.

Encouraged with food

Bemused beach-goers had reportedly encouraged the bird, which is about 14 months old and still has its brown plumage, by feeding it.

Bald eagle attacking ball
The bird was attracted by footballs

"He associates people with food and that's the worst possible situation for a wild bird," said Peter MacKinnon, the town's animal control officer.

The bird managed to elude capture for quite some time, dodging animal control officers and staying out of reach.

They offered the bird bait and knowing its fondness of attacking footballs, tried to lure it into a game - to no avail.

Main attraction

Watching the failed attempts to capture the bird became the main source of amusement at the beach and drew huge crowds.

"It's too obvious for him, the people with the bait down there," said Jonathan Joiner, aged 14, of Boston. "I don't think he's that stupid. He's up there laughing."

Animal control officers said that the young bird posed little real threat to humans and in fact people seemed to have grown fond of their star attraction.

"Other beaches have sharks, but at Hampton, we had to be different - we had to get an attack eagle," said Mr MacKinnon.

The BBC's Sangeeta Mhaiskar
"The little girl was left upset, but uninjured"
See also:

03 Jul 99 | Americas
Eagle's bright future
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