North Idaho

Poisoned eagle recovers, returns to the wild

Poisoned eagle makes full recovery

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A young poisoned bald eagle on the brink of death has made a full recovery thanks to a North Idaho group.

It's not uncommon to find eagles at the Kootenai County Fighting Creek Farm Landfill. Employees say they see them all the time. However last week when one of the employees saw one that looked injured he did the right thing; kept people away and then called in the experts.

Usually when Eric Reis approaches eagles they fly away. This one didn't.

"And we got within a couple feet of it, so I thought something's wrong with that eagle, you know," said Kootenai County Landfill employee Eric Reis.

The young eagle made a few failed attempts to get airborne but another eagle started to attack the immature bird, so Reis called wildlife officials.

"It really was kinda acting drunk. It flipped on its back and then it stooped forward," said Reis.

Wildlife officials then called in raptor biologist and Birds of Prey Northwest executive director Janie Fink.

"It's important that if you handle birds of prey you have the proper permitting authority to do so and the property expertise. These are special patients that are dangerous and need special treatment," said Fink.

Fink says the bird seemed to be acutely poisoned. Possibly by a poisoned nuisance animal like a rabbit or rodent that was then thrown away. It took several days to nurse the bird back to health.

"If you discard an animal that is euthanized and not properly discarded it can kill an eagle or another pet or a coyote," said Fink.

This eagle was fitted with an arm band for tracking purposes. He's not old enough to have the completely white head and yellow beak yet but he's survived the first year. One out of four eagles don't. Aside from poisoning, Fink says the main threat to birds of prey include, illegal gunshot, lead poisoning, car collision and now collision with wind turbines.

This 3-year-old bald eagle, already a survivor, gets another chance to take to the skies of North Idaho. Once released the three-year-old bald immediately flew out of sight into a strand of evergreen trees.

"Six days ago it was written off dead," said Reis.