After weeks of treatment, poisoned eagles released back into the wild in Minnesota
After weeks of medical treatment, six bald eagles that were found poisoned last month near the Twin Cities were released back into the wild on Friday.
The University of Minnesota Raptor Center released the eagles at Carpenter Nature Center, along the St. Croix River near Hastings.
They were among 11 eagles found poisoned near a landfill in Inver Grove Heights in early December.
The Raptor Center said the first was found Dec. 4, nine more on Dec. 5 and one more on Dec. 6.
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The Raptor Center reported the eagles were “suffering from pentobarbital poisoning, the primary agent used in euthanasia solution. Eagles can get secondary poisoning if they scavenge on the body of an animal that was euthanized with the chemical.”
Officials confirmed that carcasses of euthanized animals had recently been brought to the landfill.
“These birds came to us extremely sick, so they required a lot of intensive treatment from our staff,” said University of Minnesota Medical Director Dr. Dana Franzen-Klein.
One of the eagles, which also had avian influenza, died. Several of the 10 others were discovered to also be suffering from lead poisoning, complicating their recovery.
In photos and videos released by the Raptor Center, the remaining 10 eagles are seen with their heads resting on rolled-up towels. Staff had to physically remove the tainted meat from the eagles’ stomachs.
One was released on Dec. 30, followed by the additional eagles released on Friday after passing final medical and flight checks.
According to Dr. Franzen-Klein, the Raptor Center treats approximately 1,000 injured and orphaned raptors every year. The organization relies on public donations for its operations, and raised nearly $20,000 to support the eagles’ rehabilitation in an online fundraiser.
”It’s extremely exciting to see all of our hard work come to fruition and see these birds go back in the wild where they belong,” said Dr. Franzen-Klein.
Correction (Jan. 10, 2023): Jim Entgelmeier’s name was spelled incorrectly in a photo caption in a previous version of this story. It has been corrected.