On January 24, an adult Bald Eagle reportedly “fell from the sky” and crash-landed in Accomack County. The eagle was taken to a local permitted wildlife rehabilitator for care before it was transferred to the Wildlife Center the following day.
Dr. Karra, the Center’s senior veterinary intern, examined the eagle as it arrived. The bird was slumped in the transport crate, exhibiting neurologic symptoms. Dr. Karra suspected lead toxicity and immediately drew blood for an in-house lead analysis. Results came back as “high”, indicating a level of lead in the bird’s body that was too high for the Center’s lead analyzer to read. The veterinary team performed several dilutions of the eagle’s blood and finally were able to obtain a reading of 8.7 ppm – a significantly high level of lead.
The veterinary team were surprised to find that the eagle survived the following day – though the bird has been exhibiting obvious neurologic signs due to the lead poisoning. While it’s encouraging that the eagle survived the first 48 hours of treatment, prognosis is still grave, given that eagles affected by lead can have permanent neurological deficits, as well as cardiac damage which can prevent release.
More information is available at wildlifecenter.org.