Six eagles found nearly dead over the weekend from poisoning after they fed on the carcasses of two euthanized horses have nearly recovered, the wildlife director at a Bainbridge animal shelter said today.
The eagles are alert and getting feisty and are being moved to a outdoor cages today, said Mike Pratt, wildlife director at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island. The shelter, funded by donations, takes in wild animals of all sorts that have been injured or orphaned.
The shelter started getting calls over the weekend about first one eagle, then a second found nearly dead on private property in Winlock, Lewis County. By the time shelter staff arrived to pick up the birds Sunday, four more had sickened, Pratt said. The birds, five juveniles and an adult, were so ill they could not stand and two were comatose.
Once back at the shelter, volunteers and two veterinarians were waiting. They administered a charcoal purgative around the clock and, by Tuesday morning, even the sickest birds had revived. They may be released by the end of the week, right back where they came from, Pratt said.
“This is why we do what we do, this happened because of a mistake,” Pratt said. “We were able to make it right, and give these eagles a second chance at life.”
Meanwhile the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the incident, said spokeswoman Joan Jewett. It is a federal offense to poison an eagle, even accidentally.
While the story may yet have a happy ending, it is a cautionary tale, Pratt said. Animal owners should never leave the carcasses of euthanized animals out where other animals could eat their poisoned flesh — a violation of Washington State law. And every homeowner should take the hint that poisoned animals kill.
Instead of rat and mouse poison, choose traps for rodent control, even inside your home, Pratt said. Poisoned rodents go outside, where they can in turn poison owls, cats, or other animals.
A seventh poisoned eagle was taken Friday to the wildlife shelter at the Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon. That eagle, a first-year male, looks excellent and will be released tomorrow, said Lacy Campbell, operations manager at the wildlife center.