Utah Environment
5:44 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

String Of Eagle Deaths Unexplained, Fifth Eagle Found Alive But Paralyzed Saturday

Credit US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Four eagles have died over the past two weeks from an unexplained illness that has left a fifth, discovered on Saturday, paralyzed but in stable condition. The eagles were discovered across northern Utah in Weber, Box Elder, Tooele and Utah counties.

Dalyn Marthaler is a wildlife specialist with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, which has cared for four of the birds, and said the birds are coming in with the same symptoms.

“They’re coming in with paralysis and tremors, and showing neurological issues. We don’t yet have the cause of that. It’s kind of a mystery at this point,” Marthaler said.

Marthaler said she is hopeful the bird found on Saturday will make a full recovery, but without an official diagnosis, caretakers have been reduced to treating the symptoms of the unknown illness.

“Basically, we just have to treat the symptoms at this pont. We have been doing supportive care, fluid therapy. We had initially treated for lead poisoning just because that was one of the symptoms they were showing, but so far the results have come back negative for the lead poisoning. At this point, we just don’t know,” Marthaler said.

The Utah Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the cause of the deaths. A necropsy is being conducted on the four birds that died.

Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife, said the division is testing the birds for infectious disease, toxins, chemicals and mineral levels. She said it will take approximately 2 weeks to get the test results back.