Bald Eagles Get Sick, Die After Likely Poisoning From Eating Euthanized Animals

Bald eagles have been getting sick and dying after potentially eating euthanized animals out of a landfill in Minnesota. 

Last week, eagles were discovered in the vicinity of the Pine Bend Landfill in Inver Grove Heights, a Minneapolis suburb. 

As the Star Tribune reported, the police department recently transferred an extremely ill young eagle found near the landfill to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. Veterinarians thought it had been eating the dead body of an animal euthanized with pentobarbital, which is the main ingredient used for euthanasia mixture.

The following day, another bald eagle with similar symptoms was discovered, according to CBS News. When volunteers traveled to the same location, they found nine more birds with similar symptoms. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, two other dead eagles were found in the region. The Raptor Center also announced that the euthanized animals were dumped in the landfill on December 2.

Raptor Center Executive Director Victoria Hall noted that animals killed with chemicals are supposed to be disposed of in a way that does not endanger other animals.

“Of the 11 [bald eagles admitted to the center], three birds were also suffering from severe lead poisoning and one bird, also infected with avian influenza, has since passed,” the Raptor Center posted on Facebook. “The remaining 10 patients are still alive and under the intensive care of our expert veterinary staff.”

It also noted that both federal and state agencies are looking into the situation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has also acquired early samples used for toxicology tests. 

“This heartbreaking incident is yet another example of how critical it is for humans to be mindful of what we are putting into the environment,” the center said. “We are all connected, and sometimes our actions can have unintended and devastating consequences.”

Bald eagles used to be on the endangered species list. In the contiguous United States, the bald eagle population is estimated at more than 300,000, according to Birdfact. In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its estimated count of 316,700. The 2020 numbers showed that the population of bald eagles was four times as large as in 2009. 

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