Raptor attacks Australian tourist near Anchorage

Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2010

ANCHORAGE - An Australian tourist thinks it was an eagle that dive-bombed him as he was walking alone in Cooper Landing, about 100 miles south of Anchorage.

Brian Hard told The Anchorage Daily News a large bird swooped down Monday afternoon.

"It was a beautiful day and I was quite content, when all of a sudden I had this sensation of eagle grabbing on, sinking a talon into my head," he said. "When it hit me, I kind of ducked down and its trajectory took it back up. I sort of looked up and its wings were spread; I had the sensation of being shaded. Looked like a young eagle to me."

Hard says he feared a second attack before he made it about 100 yards to the home where he is staying.

"Skin was actually raised off my scalp," he said. "I felt the bleeding."

The visitor from Cape York Peninsula in Queensland wonders if he was mistaken for prey.

"Somebody suggested I kind of looked like a rabbit from the sky," said Hard, who wears his gray hair in a ponytail. "I can sort of understand why it happened to me."

Fish and Wildlife Service raptor export Phil Schempf in Juneau thinks the bird was a goshawk, which is more likely than an eagle to attack people close to their nests.

"Eagles tend to be pretty wimpy. I can count on one finger the number of eagle attacks I've seen," he said. "I wonder if he was mixing up his birds and it was a goshawk. In your face, a goshawk looks pretty big."

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