An eagle found by a Comox man and his mother while fishing is recovering from lead poisoning thanks to the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society.
Gylaine Andersen, the society’s manager of rehabilitation said John Berry and his mother were fishing about three kilometres away from Comox when Berry came upon an eagle clinging to a tree branch that appeared to be in distress.
“They were off the coast of the Comox bay and they immediately called MARS. We advised them to capture the eagle, but that’s normally something we don’t advise.”
Andersen explained the eagle – which does have the ability to swim using its wings – may have been chasing prey or was harassed by other birds. She added it may have been swimming and climbed up on the branch to dry off.
Following its capture, MARS transferred the eagle to its facility for assessment and treatment.
“It was quite water-logged, so we had to dry (the eagle) off and keep him under a heat lamp at the (MARS) hospital,” explained Andersen.
She added the eagle, who is around three or four years old, had an overall good body condition and blood values but found out through tests it was suffering from lead poising, which she said surprised the entire staff.
Andersen suspected the poisoning could have happened either onshore or in the water, when the eagle may have eaten fish with sinkers in them or a carcass that had a lead shot in its body.
The treatment for lead poising is lengthy as it involves injections of calcium EDTA for five days, with two days off treatment. Staff will retest the eagle’s blood following each treatment.
The goal, Andersen noted, is always to have every animal in treatment return to the wild.