Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Potawatomi Release Eagle Recovered from Lead Poisoning

( Photo: Billy Daniels gave moving prayer and song for the bald eagle before the bird is released to the wild.) Laura Harvey photo

( Photo: Minutes before the eagle spread his own wings to the sky.) Laura Harvey photo
On December 23, 2008 a call came in that an adult eagle had been found along the roadside in a town some 40 minutes from REGI. A former intern was visiting and together we grabbed the rescue kit, jumped in the van and were off.

We found Clarence Daniels holding the bird in a blanket at the Forest Country Potawatomi Security office in Crandon. The bird was very thin and weak. He was near death and struggled to stay conscious as we raced back to Antigo.

Once at REGI we did a physical, gave emergency care and drew blood to check for a variety of things including lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is common post hunting season here in the north woods. Eagles and other wildlife get it when they eat on deer carcasses that have been left in the woods after hunting.

The male adult eagle weighed less than five (5) lbs when he arrived at REGI. That is about half what he should have weighed.

The blood work revealed the eagle had lead poisoning and was very anemic.

Treatment to chelate the lead from his blood began immediately. The treatment for lead poisoning is a long and arduous process not to mention expensive. Ca EDTA is the compound used as an injection. Our pharmacy cost for CA EDTA is $600. for 30 ccs. Just as human pharmacy costs go up so too do those for our patients. They are the same drugs. But wildlife does not have insurance.

The bird began to make a recovery. It was slow at first but finally he began eating on his own. Once out of intensive care he was put into the large flight building to regain his strength.

By April he was ready to take his rightful place in his world.

It was a great day in April 9th when Clarence Daniels once again took the eagle into his arms, but this time it was to give him his freedom.

The bird flew strong and first landed in a large tree. He looked back at his former captors and while we will never know what he was thinking, I hope he was taking a final look at people gathered on a hill that cared enough for him to rescue him in his time of need and release him back to his wild life when he was ready.

( Photo: Freedom at last. The eagle takes one last look at the crowd that came to wish him well before he spreads his wings to go home.)
A moving drum ceremony followed the release. Clarence Daniels was presented gifts to honor his finding the eagle and then being able to put it back into the environment.
( Photo: Clarence dances around the drum circle following the presentation of gifts, Photo Laura Harvey)

Our thanks to the Forest Country Potawatomi, Crandon, WI for bringing a beautiful celebration to the REGI site. The bird had a purpose and in his recovery gave hope to many. We wish him a long life and his search for food yield only that which is not toxic.

Marge Gibson

Check this link out for a terrific newspaper article by Lori Thomas about the bald eagle rescue and lead issue. http://indiancountrynews.net/index2.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5820

Photos: From Lori Thomas

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