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Wild again: Lead-poisoned bald eagle released in Longview

By Paul Craig
KPTV

A bald eagle found in Longview with severe lead poisoning spent months in the care of the Audubon Society of Portland, only to have its return to the wild delayed. Now, after finally being given a clean bill of health, the eagle is flying high again in southwest Washington.

Wild again: Lead-poisoned bald eagle released in Longview

Photo: Audubon Society of Portland

A bald eagle found in Longview with severe lead poisoning spent months in the care of the Audubon Society of Portland, only to have its return to the wild delayed.

Now, after finally being given a clean bill of health, the eagle is flying high again in southwest Washington.

The bird was released at noon Friday at Willow Grove Park near Longview.

The eagle was originally scheduled for release Aug. 23, but the day before it sustained a soft-tissue injury while flying in an off-site flight cage.

"It's in the eagle's best interest to release him as quickly as possible," said Portland Audubon Society veterinarian Sheaffer. "He is in excellent health now and has once again met all of the standards we set for birds going back into the wild."

The eagle was discovered in May and veterinarians believe it was poisoned after eating the remains of an animal shot with lead ammunition.

Veterinarians said in addition to high levels of lead in the bird's blood, it also had metal in its stomach. The veterinarians credit a state-of-the-art lead-testing machine provided by the Oregon Zoo for quickly diagnosing and treating the poisoned raptor.

Since January, the care center has collected lead levels from 15 species. The first round of results will be analyzed and published at the end of this year. More than 200 raptors, vultures and ravens pass through the care center in an average year, a good sample size for the study, according to veterinarians.

While recovering from the latest injury, the eagle spent time on the ground and ended up damaging his tail feathers. To get him ready for release, members of Audubon's animal rehabilitation staff used a method called imping to replace the damaged feathers with healthy ones molted by another eagle.

KPTV - FOX 12
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