PULLMAN – One of two very weak and starving bald eagles found near Colville, Wash., has died at WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
The 3-year old juvenile eagle nicknamed “Jordan,” died this morning after crews say she appeared to be resting well overnight. The eagle suffered severe dehydration, hypothermia, and had lost a large percentage of its normal body weight before it was found in the wild unable to fly. During treatment at WSU, the eagle remained very lethargic and was not eating well. Veterinary care providers said Jordan passed quietly in its enclosure.
“The odds of survival were not good from the very beginning,” said Dr. Nickol Finch, who heads up the raptor rehabilitation service at WSU.
The team is now focused on saving the second eagle brought in this week; a 5-year-old mature male bald eagle found just south of Colville along Highway 395. The WSU crew has named the older eagle “Carpenter.” The names come from authors of widely used veterinary avian textbooks.
Cases of sick eagles brought to WSU’s veterinary college increase somewhat between November and March. A high percentage suffer from lead poisoning; the source of which is still unclear to many wildlife experts.
Early indications are that Jordan suffered from elevated lead levels, but a definitive test is pending. A necropsy, (a post-mortem examination of an animal like an autopsy in humans) is being performed at the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory to help determine a cause of death.
“Losing patients despite our best efforts and unmatched animal medical care is one of the hardest things there is in this job,” said Dr. Finch, “but the fact remains that many of these majestic animals can’t be saved by the time they get to definitive care.”
In recent months, WSU successfully rehabilitated and released a pair of eagles from the same region. “River,” a female adult eagle was released near Kettle Falls, Wash., in July 2006, after more than nine months of rehabilitation. “Kim,” a second eagle, was released outside Newport, Wash., in November 2007.