On Sunday, December 4th, the Inver Grove Heights Police Department brought in a sick juvenile bald eagle that they had found in the snow. On intake, TRC’s Medical Director, Dr. Dana, found that it was highly likely that it was suffering from pentobarbital poisoning, the primary agent used in euthanasia solution. Eagles can get secondary poisoning if they scavenge on the body of an animal that was euthanized with the chemical. This bird was flu tested and admitted for care.
The next day, December 5th, another bird in similar condition was found in the same area near a landfill in Inver Grove Heights. TRC volunteers immediately went out to rescue it and quickly found not 1 but 9 additional birds also showing similar clinical signs. On December 6, US Fish and Wildlife found one more eagle, bringing the number of eagles admitted to TRC to 11. The suspicion that these birds were suffering from pentobarbital poisoning was further heightened when it was confirmed that carcasses of animals that had been euthanized with chemicals were brought to the landfill on Friday and could have been scavenged on by eagles.
Of the 11, three birds were also suffering from severe lead poisoning and one bird, also infected with avian influenza, has since passed. The remaining 10 patients are still alive and under the intensive care of our expert veterinary staff.
State and federal agencies are investigating the incident and US Fish and Wildlife obtained all samples collected by TRC for toxicology testing.
This heartbreaking incident is yet another example of how critical it is for humans to be mindful of what we are putting into the environment. We are all connected, and sometimes our actions can have unintended and devastating consequences.
We are grateful to KSTP-TV News who visited TRC to cover this story. You can view their story here: https://kstp.com/.../nearly-a-dozen-sick-eagles-receive.../
We at The Raptor Center will always be ready to respond to wild raptors in need and will continue to post updates here as this developing situation continues to unfold.