On March 31, an adult Bald Eagle was found grounded in Smithfield, Virginia. The eagle was rescued by permitted wildlife rehabilitator Dana Lusher, who discovered numerous wounds and transferred the bird to the Wildlife Center.
On admission, the eagle was alert and responsive. Dr. Karra, the Center's Director of Veterinary Services, examined the eagle and found a large necrotic wound on its neck, a necrotic, maggot-infested wound on its right wing, several abrasions, and missing talons on both of its feet. Radiographs did not reveal any fractures, but a lead test came back with a positive reading of 0.07 ppm lead – a subclinical level, but still able to cause significant health issues.
The vet team cleaned the eagle's wounds and started the bird on a course of anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, and chelation therapy to remove the lead. They then placed the eagle inside the Center's indoor Holding room to rest and planned to debride the bird's wing injury in the days following its admission.
On April 7, the vet team anesthetized the eagle to surgically debride the wound on its wing and grafted skin from the eagle's left leg to help stabilize the injury. The surgery went smoothly, and afterward, the vet staff placed specialized bandages on the bird's wounds to aid in the healing process.
By the following week, vet staff discovered that the skin graft was not healing well, and they also noted that the bird's neck wound had become infected and would need to be debrided. On April 14, the team surgically debrided the eagle’s neck wound. While under anesthesia, staff closely examined the eagle's skin graft – though the skin was dead, the wound underneath was healing well; staff made an incision to allow drainage but otherwise left the skin graft intact.
During the next month, the vet team added laser therapy and physical therapy to the eagle’s treatment plan to aid in the healing process. The eagle's injuries responded well to the combined regimen of treatment, and at the end of the month, the eagle was moved to an outdoor C-pen to reduce stress as it continued to recover.
By late June, the eagle's wounds had completely healed, though it did develop a mild case of pododermatitis on its right foot. Staff applied a liquid bandage to its foot to act as a protective barrier and added new perching options to the enclosure. On June 26, the eagle was moved to one of the Center's largest flight pens to start exercise.
On July 1, the rehabilitation staff began exercising the eagle daily, starting at a regimen of up to five flight passes of the length of the enclosure; by July 24, the eagle had increased in stamina to 5-10 flight passes and the rehab staff noted that the bird's flight was “much improved”.`Staff will continue to exercise the eagle to help it rebuild its flight strength and stamina. The eagle is currently housed in the A2 flight enclosure, along with Bald Eagle #22-3464.