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Veterinarians decide to delay Bald Eagle release

Posted by thunsdorfer at Aug 23, 2013 10:20 AM |

Aug. 23, 2013: Audubon Society of Portland veterinarians have decided to delay a Bald Eagle release scheduled for Aug. 24. The eagle had been given a clean bill of health earlier this week, but during his final round of exams, the bird was struggling to fly. The raptor has been in treatment at Audubon for severe lead poisoning since May.

Veterinarians decide to delay Bald Eagle release

Bald Eagle - Tinsley Hunsdorfer

Audubon Society of Portland veterinarians have decided to delay a Bald Eagle release scheduled for Aug. 24. The eagle had been given a clean bill of health earlier this week, but during his final round of exams, the bird was struggling to fly. The raptor has been in treatment at Audubon for severe lead poisoning since May.

“The eagle is no longer suffering from lead toxicity, but we discovered during a pre-release exam that he wasn’t lifting well off of the ground when he tried to fly,” said Portland Audubon veterinarian Deb Sheaffer. “It appears that at some point yesterday the raptor may have sustained soft tissue damage in one of his wings, but we’re running tests to see if there are any other issues impacting his flight ability.”

While they wait for test results to come in, members of Audubon’s wildlife rehabilitation staff will continue to monitor the eagle.

“We’re sorry to disappoint people who were planning to attend the release, but we need to be absolutely sure the eagle is in good health before we release it,” said Sheaffer. “We want it to have the best possible chance it can to do well in the wild.”

Members of the public had been invited to the release, to be held in Willow Grove Park near Longview, Wash., at 11 a.m. this Saturday. In case some eagle-enthusiasts do not receive word of the delay, Audubon will have a staff member or volunteer at the release site.

Found near Longview, Wash., the adult eagle likely became poisoned after eating the remains of an animal shot with lead ammunition, ingesting fragments of ammunition along with the carcass. In addition to having high levels of lead in his blood, an X-ray revealed metal in the bird's stomach.

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