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MINNEAPOLIS – A Minnesota man rescued an injured bald eagle on the side of an interstate highway near Minneapolis, running across lanes of oncoming traffic to save the bird, authorities said.

Sam Ratuski, 32, saw the injured eagle as he was driving southbound on Interstate 35W on Saturday, WCCO reported.

“I realize it may not have been the safest thing to do, but I’ve grown up in the outdoors and have always had a deep respect for animals, Ratuski told the television station. “So as long as I wasn’t putting anyone at risk I had to help it, it’s our national bird.”

At first, Ratuski thought the eagle was dead. The bird was tucked up against the median with its wings spread.

“My heart dropped when I thought it was dead, but when I got closer I could see its head lifted up off the pavement,” Ratuski told WCCO.

Ratuski said a couple driving a U-Haul slowed down traffic to allow him to cross over into the northbound lanes and bring the eagle to safety, the television station reported.

Soon, a trooper from the Minnesota State Patrol arrived, Ratuski said.

“I didn’t ask how they saw me, but I can assume they saw me on the traffic cameras or someone else called 911 and said ‘there was some guy carrying an eagle down the interstate,’” Ratuski told WCCO.

The trooper called the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help tend to the eagle, the television station reported.