Bald Eagle #17-0109

Admission Date: 
February 11, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Greene County, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Lead toxicity
Euthanized March 2, 2017
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On February 11, an adult male Bald Eagle was found down in Greene County. An animal control officer was able to capture the bird, and a volunteer transporter drove the eagle to the Wildlife Center for treatment.

Dr. Ernesto examined the eagle upon admission; the bird was bright, alert, and standing but was weak and thin. Dr. Ernesto noted a heart murmur on the bird's physical examination but didn't find any obvious injuries. Blood work revealed "high" lead levels, indicating a level of more than 1.0 ppm. Blood was sent to an outside laboratory for confirmation; results came back several days later with a result of 1.7 ppm.

Chelation therapy was started right away, and the first round of treatment was successful. When a repeat lead test was performed on February 16, results came back at 0.069 ppm. An additional lead test will be performed on February 27.

On February 19, the team moved the eagle to flight pen A1. The bird is feisty and eating well, and will soon be ready for exercise. The staff will monitor the bird's stamina closely, since lead toxicity can permanently damage internal organs, including the heart.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this eagle ... and to the 2,500 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year.


March 13, 2017

On Monday, February 27, Bald Eagle #17-0127 was re-tested for lead, which is the Center's protocol for birds that have gone through chelation therapy. In birds with chronic lead toxicity, lead can be absorbed into a raptor's bones, and, over time, the lead can leach back out into the bird's system. Lead test results came back at a level of 0.3 ppm, which warrants treatment.

The veterinary team began an oral chelation therapy, but after two days, the bird started declining. An injectable chelation therapy was added, and the eagle was once again housed inside the Center's holding room. Sadly, the eagle's health continued to decline; on Thursday, March 2, the bird was in severe respiratory distress. Due to the severity of the symptoms, the team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the eagle.

Learn more about lead toxicity -- and how to prevent it -- here.