On March 26, veterinary staff anesthetized Bald Eagle #21-0214 to surgically remove dead tissue from the wound on its left wing. They were able to remove most of the dead tissue, but part of the wound was still too dry for debridement. Afterwards, they thoroughly flushed the wound with an antiseptic and sutured it closed, then placed the eagle back in the Center's indoor holding area to recover.
Even with surgery and continued treatment for its infection, the wound worsened and the surrounding tissue became discolored, dried, and warm to the touch. Concerned that the patagial ligament in the eagle’s wing was damaged beyond repair, which would leave it unable to fly, the veterinary team decided to flight test the eagle. If it could fly, even if unwell, then it would mean that the patagial ligament was intact enough for rehabilitation. On March 30, the veterinary team took the eagle to flight pen A2, one of the Center’s largest flight pens. Though it struggled, the eagle was able to fly, and the veterinary team continued their efforts to aggressively treat its infection.
After two more weeks of applying specialized bandages to the wound and intensive treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, the eagle’s infection finally appears to be resolving and the wound on its wing is looking better. In addition, radiographs revealed that both its clavicle and coracoid fractures are healing well. The integrity of its patagial ligament is still unclear, and further flight tests will be needed to determine if normal flight can be restored. For now, the eagle is remaining indoors for treatment where veterinary staff can easily monitor the injury on its wing.