3 Bald Eagles Dead After Accidentally Eating Euthanized Animals, More Sickened

A bald eagle is under observation after suspected pentobarbital poisoning.
A bald eagle is under observation after suspected pentobarbital poisoning.The Raptor Center

Wildlife officials believe the eagles were poisoned by a chemical used in animal euthanasia solution.

At least a dozen bald eagles were poisoned after eating chemically euthanized animals that were improperly dumped in a Minnesota landfill, leading to three birds dead and several still severely sick, wildlife officials said.

“This heartbreaking incident is yet another example of how critical it is for humans to be mindful of what we are putting into the environment,” the University of Minnesota Raptor Center said in a statement. “We are all connected, and sometimes our actions can have unintended and devastating consequences.”

Last week, local authorities brought a severely sick juvenile bald eagle that had been found in the snow to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center to be examined, the animal rehabilitation center said in a statement.

Upon initial inspection, a veterinarian with the wildlife center believed it had been poisoned by pentobarbital, a primary ingredient used in euthanasia solution.

“Eagles can get secondary poisoning if they scavenge on the body of an animal that was euthanized with the chemical,” the statement said.

Over the next two days, 11 birds were discovered at the landfill, exhibiting the same symptoms.

“The suspicion that these birds were suffering from pentobarbital poisoning was further heightened when it was confirmed that carcasses of animals had been euthanized with chemicals were brought to the landfill on Friday and could have been scavenged on by eagles,” according to the statement.

The center’s medical team later discovered that of the 11 birds, three of them also suffered from severe lead poisoning, a common threat against bald eagles that ingest bullet fragments.

One of the bald eagles additionally tested positive for avian flu and has since died.

The rest of the bald eagles are now recovering under intensive care.

While bald eagles were removed from the endangered list in 2007, they continue to be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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