POISON VICTIM: It was a cold, wet morning when a walker along Willingdon Beach trail called Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society about an eagle just standing on a log by the path, not even moving when dogs came by. It had been like that for three days.
PROWLS president Merrilee Prior raced down, walked over and scooped up the eagle, which had now stumbled off the log and fallen on her face while trying to get away.
Not yet a year old, she weighed almost nothing and was too weak to eat. It was clear she was starving. The eagle was placed on Paciﬁc Coastal Airline’s ﬁrst ﬂight to Vancouver.
Upon arrival at Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) in Delta, she was immediately tested for lead poisoning. The test showed high lead levels but she was unable to tolerate the treatment, which involves ﬂushing out the lead intravenously.
The lead had been in her system too long, causing neurological damage. In spite of all the efforts made at OWL, she died overnight.
Eagles ingest the lead from animals they eat (ducks and geese) that pick up the lead while foraging on lake bottoms, or from the piles of carrion left by hunters in the bush. It acts as grit helping digestion, but is too heavy to be excreted, so it collects in the system. If caught soon enough, the birds can be treated.
If a bird is behaving in any unusual way, including letting you be close to it, call PROWLS right away. Time is critical.