BELMONT, Maine — A bald eagle was killed on impact Monday after flying into the windshield of a tractor-trailer that was traveling on Route 3 in Belmont, according to Waldo County Sheriff Jeff Trafton.

A witness to the crash told police she had seen two bald eagles chasing each other while losing altitude and flying closer to the ground, Trafton said in a press release issued Tuesday. One of the eagles came too close and flew into the truck’s windshield.

“The driver was caught off guard and had no time to react to avoid the collision,” Trafton said.

Deputy Merl Reed spoke to the driver of the 2010 Peterbilt truck and the woman who witnessed the crash. Neither person was identified in the press release.

Police contacted a game warden, who gave permission for the Police Department to give the bird’s body to a representative of Avian Haven, a wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom that is permitted by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to possess wild and endangered birds. It couldn’t immediately be determined Tuesday what the center would do with the dead bird.

The bald eagle, the iconic American bird and national symbol, was in danger of extinction just decades ago. In 1963, there were only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles remaining in the whole country, largely because of habitat loss, shooting and poisoning with the pesticide DDT, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. That chemical made the eggshells of eagles and other birds near the top of the food chain too brittle to survive.

The bald eagle was placed on the federal Endangered Species list in 1967, and the Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of DDT in 1972, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Eagles began to rebound and were removed from the national list of threatened and endangered species in 2007.

Maine, which had just 20 nesting pairs in the state in 1978, followed suit two years later when then-Gov. John Baldacci declared the bird officially recovered in Maine.

However, it remains illegal to possess a bald or golden eagle, including its parts such as feathers or feet.