Several bald eagles are being cared for at Island Animal Hospital after being poisoned on Vancouver Island. Volunteers from the Raptor Rescue Society first discovered the birds at a Nanaimo landfill. They immediately transferred the raptors to a veterinary hospital where it was discovered the B.C. eagles ate toxic meat that was improperly disposed of.
Dr. Ken Langelier with Island Vancouver Hospital treated the eagles. While eight were initially discovered on Sunday, February 16, he told Narcity that another poisoned eagle was found last night, and one more was brought in this morning.
Three made a recovery and were released this morning, February 18. One passed away.
On inspection, he discovered they were sedated and had crops and stomachs full of pig meat.
"Immediately I could tell that it was heavily sedated by the way its third eyelid would move and its slow breathing and heart rate, and low body temperature," said Langelier to CTV News.
The symptoms made Langelier think the birds had barbiturate poisoning, a type drug that's often used in animal euthanization. He believes they'd eaten a euthanized pig that wasn't properly disposed of.
"The fact that we got a bird today is a bit disturbing," said Langelier, saying that the birds might still have access to the pig carcass.
While he said it was possible that more birds were poisoned that they haven't found yet, the volunteers from the Raptor Rescue Society had done a thorough job searching for the birds.
This is a reminder to be careful of how we dispose of our waste.
Seeing a pair of bald eagles safeguard their nest in Strathcona Park #Vancouver on #FamilyDay while walking my dog.… https://t.co/VyUy4pRa2y— Angi Cividino (@Angi Cividino) 1581995708.0
While these cases aren't super common, they happen more often than they should, said Rob Hope, the raptor care manager with the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, to Narcity.
"The amount of that we happen to find is probably a drop in the bucket compared to the ones that have gone off and died before they were even found," said Hope of eagles suffering from poisoned food.
a resident eagle along the harbour catching and eating various crustaceans. #birdwatching #birdphotography #nature… https://t.co/Lf1fA0nR9X— BirdsofBC 🇨🇦 (@BirdsofBC 🇨🇦) 1581902508.0
Langelier believes the pig carcass had been illegally disposed of at the landfill. Normally, landfills have a special disposal system for euthanized animals, he said.
[rebelmouse-image 25969921 photo_credit="Ken Langelier | Hand Out" expand=1 original_size="960x539"]
"Normally when an animal is euthanized, it should be buried at least six to eight feet down or burned," he said to Narcity. "That way, there's no way of picking it up or scavenging it."
Eagles are well-protected in Canada but if harmful edible substances aren't properly disposed of then they could continue to get sick.