A wildlife rehabilitation centre near London, Ont., helped an injured eagle fly high again.
Brian Salt, the president and founder of Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre, spoke with 980 CFPL Sunday about the eagle’s speedy recovery.
“Its head and eyelids were kind of droopy, it was weak, and it was an easy capture because of all those symptoms.”
The eagle was admitted to Salthaven with symptoms of lead poisoning, according to Salt, who described the bird as “big,” and said it weighed around 15 pounds.
Salt said shortly after the eagle was admitted, it showed signs of “perkiness.”
By the fourth day, the eagle’s feet gained strength, and “she” was brought back to where she was found.
“It was evident that when we released her, she knew exactly where she wanted to be. When we went into her enclosure on the third day, she was more than feisty.”
“If she could’ve had her way with us, she would’ve,” Salt chuckled.
“We go in well-equipped and armoured up for situations like that because you never know what’s going to meet you on the other side of the door.”
Before the official release, Salt said the bald eagle had a test flight on a test line and proved she was fully ready.
“We had a lot of drag on that line, and she was pulling that like it wasn’t even there, so we knew she was going to be OK to be released.”
Salt said Salthaven has looked after six bald eagles in the past few years.
What makes this rescue special is the eagle’s fast recovery time compared to other eagles, which can stay for as long as six months at the rehabilitation centre, Salt said.
He said a lot of the eagles they’ve rescued in the past dealt with lead poisoning, especially during hunting season or early spring.
“Some deers are shot by hunters or hit by a car but was previously shot,” Salt explained.
The bullet, made of lead, “… will sometimes hit a bone and it shatters the bullet, and a lot of that lead will end up in the entrails in the gut piles that are left behind by hunters, and eagles will eat that.”
“A bullet that was meant to kill one [animal] often times kill more than one.”
Internal bleeding can be common with lead poisoning, which can cause death if not treated in time, according to Salt.
But it’s not easy to identify whether an eagle may need help.
“Eagles are such tough animals. You don’t even know anything’s wrong with them until they’re just about dead, or literally falling out of the tree.”
Other than lead poisoning, Salt said rodenticide poisoning is also common in birds of prey.
This is when rodents such as rats eat rat poison and get eaten by a bird of prey, like owls, hawks or eagles. The rat poison will likely kill those birds too, Salt said.
If you spot an injured bald eagle, Salt recommends to stay away and not go near it, because they have gripping strength in their feet of 700 pounds per square inch.
“That’s like somebody weighing 700 pounds with one-inch heels standing on your hand with one foot with all their weight – that’s going to leave a mark.”
Salt said your best option is to call a rehabilitation centre that deals specifically with birds of prey.
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