A poisoned golden eagle found in a B.C. backyard is on the road to recovery, according to a non-profit animal organization.
The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO) says the juvenile eagle was found Sunday evening in a Grand Forks backyard, with the residents phoning for help.
“It definitely was poisoned,” Dale Belvedere, manager for SORCO, told Global News on Tuesday.
“It was very late, very dark and (the residents) were scared to even approach him. He was standing up and he was fine, so we chose to leave him overnight and see how he would do, that maybe he would fly off.
“But in the morning, he was in terrible shape. Overnight, he deteriorated quite rapidly. That’s when conservation went and got him for us.”
The raptor was taken to Rock Creek, then to SORCO in Oliver.
In a Facebook post, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said the eagle was very lethargic and in poor condition, adding that it appears the eagle may have been poisoned.
“We immediately started the antidote,” said Belvedere, with “quite a bit” given to the eagle because he couldn’t balance and his talons were seized.
“And then four or five hours later, he received a second dose. And when I went into his pen last night to give him another dose, he was actually standing up and was very alert.”
Belvedere said the bird was actually aggressive, so she called for help to administer the third dose. She said the antidote is an anticoagulant, vitamin K1, and is administered by needle.
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“This morning, we put him into our eagle flight pen because he’s flying all over the place,” said Belvedere. “He was very aggressive and it was quite the fight to catch him and get him over to the eagle pen.
“But he’s doing extremely well. (He was rescued) just in time. Another hour or so and I don’t believe the bird would be with us today.”
Belvedere says the bird weighs around 3.3 kilograms (7.2 pounds), adding that’s a bit underweight, and stands around three-quarters of a metre tall (2.5 feet).
“We don’t know how long he was down for,” said Belvedere. “But usually when they’re poisoned for three or four days, that’s when the bird will start to show all the signs.”
Asked about the poisoning, Belvedere said they couldn’t trace it, but noted this golden eagle may have eaten a rodent – possibly poisoned. Golden eagles are said to have a wide diet, including fish.
However, she confirmed the golden eagle had been poisoned.
“But I would say some sort of rodenticide because he did react very quickly to the antidote,” she said. “If it was lead poisoning, we’re talking a totally different antidote and he wouldn’t have reacted as he did.”
The golden eagle is expected to stay at SORCO for the short term before being released back into the Grand Forks wilderness.
SORCO’s annual fundraiser has been cancelled again because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The rescue organization is closed to the public 364 days a year, and only opens its doors to the public one day a year, that being its fundraiser.
On average, SORCO rescues around 150 birds of prey a year.
For more about SORCO, including fundraising, visit its website.