Bald Eagles Reportedly Poisoned in Minnesota


A bald eagle poisoned by scavenging the carcasses of euthanized animals is seen at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, in Minneapolis. | Image by University of Minnesota Raptor Center

As many as 13 bald eagles were reportedly poisoned, and three died after apparently eating euthanized animals dumped at a Minnesota landfill.

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating when the eagles were found last month close to the Pine Bend Landfill in the Minneapolis area of Inver Grove Heights, as first reported by the Minnesota Star Tribune.

Two birds were found dead near the landfill. The 11 surviving eagles were taken to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center.

Of the 11 eagles brought to the center, one was found to have bird flu and died. Three of the eagles had lead poisoning.

Initially, a single sick bird was found in the snow and rescued by the Inver Grove Heights Police Department on December 4, according to the Raptor Center. When another bird in similar condition was found the next day, volunteers from the Raptor Center began to search the area, at which point the other nine sick birds were discovered and taken for treatment.

“This heartbreaking incident is yet another example of how critical it is for humans to be mindful of what we are putting into the environment,” the center said. “We are all connected, and sometimes our actions can have unintended and devastating consequences.”

Victoria Hall, executive director of the center, is confident the birds will survive.

When Raptor Center workers first found the motionless birds lying face-down in the snow, they were not sure the eagles were alive, Hall said.

Veterinarians speculated that the eagles that died had eaten a part of the euthanized animals that were injected with pentobarbital, a type of sedative.

Some of the euthanized animals had been brought to the landfill on December 2, investigators said.

According to Hall, animals that have been euthanized with chemicals are supposed to be disposed of in such a way that other animals cannot scavenge them.

A crowdfunding campaign was created in order to help with the expenses of taking care of the eagles.

The initial fundraising goal was met, according to the website.

Once on the endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated in 2019 that the population of bald eagles stands at more than 300,000, up from around 70,000 in 2009

Bald eagles are typically scavengers. They can be found in Texas, primarily in the eastern part of the state, in places such as along the coast in Houston and Rockport from October to July, while in the Winter, they can be seen in East Texas and the Panhandle.

Texas Highways lists some of the parks where you can see bald eagles in Texas this winter.

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