Young eagle rescued from harbor island
Steve Krmpotich knew it was something unusual by the sound of his dog's barks. He thought it might be a fox -- long known to inhabit Hearding Island just off Park Point -- as he walked his wirehair pointers on the frozen bay along the island Thur...
Steve Krmpotich knew it was something unusual by the sound of his dog's barks.
He thought it might be a fox -- long known to inhabit Hearding Island just off Park Point -- as he walked his wirehair pointers on the frozen bay along the island Thursday evening.
It turned out to be an eagle.
"I called the dogs back and I expected it to fly away, or at least spread its wings to warn us. But it didn't do anything. It didn't even move," Krmpotich said of the immature bald eagle that sat perched on a small branch. "I knew it looked pretty bad."
On Friday morning, Krmpotich, fellow Park Point resident Dick Gould and avid Duluth birder Dave Alexander returned to the spot and captured the young eagle. It didn't even try to get away, Krmpotich said.
The rescuers brought the bird to Peggy Farr, a state-certified wildlife rehabilitator in Duluth. Farr immediately recognized the problem as lead poisoning.
"We see way too many of these cases," she said. "They slowly grow too weak to hunt and then they can't eat and they become emaciated. So they are dying from lack of food and from the toxicity of the lead."
Farr said the eagle weighed about half what it should. She was feeding it and giving it fluids Friday morning and was set to transfer the bird to the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center in St. Paul where it will be given drugs to remove the lead from its system. Veterinarians also will check for and remove any remaining lead fragments in the bird's stomach and then, if all goes well, nurse it back to health.
"I'm not very hopeful with this one. It may be too far gone," Farr said. "But we have to try."
The Raptor Center handles more than 800 sick, injured and wounded birds of prey annually. Of the roughly 100 ailing eagles that come into the center each year, more than one-third die because of lead poisoning.
Eagles pick up lead from bullet fragments in deer carcasses, from lead shot in wounded birds and animals they eat, and sometimes from small lead fishing tackle.