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Dramatic Bald-Eagle Rescue; Lead Poisoning to Blame

Posted January 30, 2014 in A Pet's Life

This story was selected for our series: “Top Stories of 2014.”

Bald-Eagle rescued

A Bald Eagle is alive and well today thanks to the extraordinary efforts of some very caring individuals and Avian Haven.

According to a facebook posting by Julie Krasne, DVM, the distressed eagle was first spotted by Amy Ruksznis, DVM, and Denise Bluhm in Bowdoinham Maine. Amy and Denise were snowshoeing when they noticed the eagle was having trouble flying. A game warden was notified but was unable to find the eagle again. Julie, Denise, Amy and their friend Brian conducted their own search for the flight challenged avian and relocated the eagle near where it had been previously.

Brian was able to safely capture the Bald Eagle using a blanket. The talons were secured and the eagle was transported to Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine. The diagnosis was lead poisoning — caused by the absorption of hazardous levels of lead in the body.

The USGS says that lead from shotgun shells is a common source of such poising. “Other sources include lead fishing sinkers, mine waste, paint chips, bullets and other swallowed lead objects.” 

Lead poisoning, which can cause lethargy and an inability to fly, certainly matched the symptoms of the eagle currently undergoing treatment at Avian Haven. It’s fortunate that Amy and Denise saw it at all; often times affected avians will seek isolation and cover.

The rescued eagle is now lead free and recovering well at Avian Haven, but may have a permanent wing droop. "She is eating and active," says Amy. You can stay updated on progress through the Animal Haven facebook page and check out the gallery for incredible rescue photos.

More of 2014's top stories:

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Jason has over 6 years of experience in the pet health industry and is managing editor of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.

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The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.