It looked like possibly a dead dog in the other lane of the two-lane highway between here and Florence.
But as we went past, M. and I were shocked to see that the body was that of a golden eagle.
I pulled off, turned around and came back. Miraculously, there was no traffic in either direction.
I was not going to take the dead eagle home. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has laws about that sort of thing. But I did not want to see it just ground flat into the asphalt, so I ran up, lifted the bird, and carried it down the embankment into the taller vegetation.
At least there it could decompose naturally. I put the dead prairie dog down there too.
The scenario was obvious: the bird had grabbed a prairie dog from one of the colonies nearby. Weighted down, it had flapped too low across the highway. What had the driver thought? Had s/he just worried about a damaged paint job?
Over breakfast in Florence, I read an AP story about a federal judge who dismissed charges against one Winslow Friday, a member of the Arapaho tribe in Wyoming who shot a bald eagle so that he could use its parts in a Sun Dance.
The FWS is supposed to furnish American Indians with legal eagle parts for ceremonial use, but the judge said that program is too slow and inefficient. (The eagles used are those killed by cars, power line collisions, and so on.) The federal attorney said that he would appeal the judge's ruling.
There is a federal "eagle repository" in Denver. But who would answer the telephone on Saturday?
I had never held an eagle before.