On August 20, a young, male Bald Eagle was hit by a vehicle in Pendleton County, West Virginia. The eagle’s rescuer found the bird on the side of the road and called the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. The eagle was transported to the Wildlife Center of Virginia later that day.
Dr. Helen Ingraham examined the Bald Eagle when it arrived. The young bird was in good condition and had no fractures – but Dr. Helen found severe ocular trauma in both eyes. The eagle’s left eye appeared to be more damaged than the right, but both eyes had retinal tears, likely from the impact of the eagle’s collision with a vehicle. The eagle was given fluids, anti-inflammatories, and pain medication. Another eye examination was scheduled for seven days post-admission. Dr. Helen knew that the eagle’s prognosis for release was guarded to poor with such extensive eye injuries.
The eye re-check on August 27 revealed that while some of the retinal tears were healing, significant damage was still present, likely making the bird non-releasable. The eagle was moved to an outdoor C-pen. The Center staff started to look for placement options for the eagle.
On September 12, the eagle was moved to flight pen A2 -- a larger space where the eagle could comfortably stay during the placement and permitting process. Several days after the eagle moved into the flight pen, the staff noted that the eagle was flying quite well – better than a visually compromised eagle would likely fly.
On September 22, a follow-up eye examination was performed – and all three veterinarians were quite surprised to find no sign of retinal tears! The injuries to the eagle’s left eye were resolved; the right eye retained some mild pigment changes, but the fovea – the portions of the bird’s eyes critical for visual acuity – were healthy.
The eagle will soon be moved to a large flight pen by itself for flight conditioning and observation. An additional eye examination has been scheduled for late October. At this point, it appears as though the bird will be releasable.