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Bald eagle crash likely caused by lead poisoning

bald eagle
TRC Staff
Dr. Dan Lorimer examined the eagle for potential eye damage.

WILSON, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK) - Teton Raptor Center veterinarians are still hoping to save a bald eagle which crashed through the window of a Jackson area home last month. But what began as treatment of external injuries has turned out to be something a bit more serious.

Experts now believe the eagle may suffer from lead poisoning, which may have caused the 30-year-old bird to crash through the window.

See the original story here.

After the incident, Raptor Center Rehab Director Meghan Warren determined the eagle had no fractures but was suffering from body, head and eye trauma with two lacerations that needed to be sutured.

According to a Center news release, "We now know that lead toxicity could explain the crash through the window. Although the initial blood test did not indicate the presence of lead in the eagle's blood, a follow-up test revealed that this eagle does indeed have a blood lead level that is considered clinical by most raptor veterinarians and rehabilitation centers. We are operating under the assumption that the initial test was a false negative and are moving forward with treatment to remove lead from the eagle's system."

Lead toxicity in raptors can cause neurologic symptoms, vision impairment, gastrointestinal issues, partial or complete paralysis, and death.

The TRC Rehab Clinic said the eagle will be held in the clinic for a longer term in order to remove lead from his system.

Chelation therapy is a treatment that uses medicine to remove metals. The Raptor Center explained that an active chelator binds to the lead molecules and pulls them from a bird's blood and bone.

The lead can then be passed out of the body through the urinary tract. It generally takes about 2 weeks to treat followed by re-testing the blood for a rebound of lead about 10 days later.

The center said the eagle is progressing well and will begin flight testing soon.

News / Top Stories / Wyoming

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