Cause of Eagles' Illness: Eating Euthanized Animals?

Advocates say birds have been poisoned by remains near shelter
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2015 3:03 PM CST
Cause of Eagles' Illness: Eating Euthanized Animals?
A bald eagle flies from a treetop in light snow along the Otsego Lake shoreline on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, in Cooperstown, N.Y.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Over the past two years, wildlife rehabilitators in Florida have found 10 struggling bald eagles—some of whom have died—at a landfill near an animal shelter. And they tell the Ocala Post they can explain the phenomenon: The eagles, a rep for the Animis Foundation suggests, have been eating euthanized animals left in the landfill, and the chemicals used in euthanasia have been transferred to the birds. Their allegations come after a dying eagle tested two years ago was found to have pentobarbital in its system; pentobarbital is often used to euthanize animals. Marion County, which runs the shelter, has defended itself against the allegations and says its solid waste team buries euthanized animals in accordance with state law, offering a fact sheet explaining its processes.

Addressing the discovery of two eagles on February 2, county officials say as soon as they were made aware of the issue, they contacted a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator (Animis is not licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but is on the FWC's list of approved rehabilitators). The officials note that "the cause of the eagles’ distress is not known or confirmed by any official tests at this time," but tests are being done and Animis claims the eagles showed "symptoms of pentobarbital poisoning," News 13 reports. One of those eagles died, while the other is still being treated, the Post notes. The US Fish and Wildlife Service says that such situations arise every year, with both wildlife and pets affected by eating "exposed euthanized carcasses." "Exposure of these carcasses is almost always the result of improper disposal at landfills," FWS adds. (A cutting-edge solar technology may be to blame for birds igniting in midair over California last year.)

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