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Bald eagle released in southeast Mo. after recovering from lead poisoning

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 2:37 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 5, 2021 at 7:30 AM CDT
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SEDGEWICKVILLE, Mo. (KFVS) - A bald eagle found at the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge on the ground, weak and unable to fly in March is now flying free.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FSW) announced the eagle has been rehabilitated after suffering from lead poisoning.

The adult female eagle was released at the refuge, located near Puxico, on Saturday, September 4.

John Watkins, of Watkins Wildlife Rehab, had the honor of releasing the bird that recovered at his facility.

Conservation agents found the female eagle in a field at on March 2.

They said the eagle tried to hop away, but did not fly. The conservation agents were able to pick her up and take her to the Skyview Animal Clinic in Cape Girardeau for a medical evaluation.

Veterinarian Technician Kelly Manley said a physical exam showed that the mature bird did not have any apparent injuries.

Two days later, the eagle was transported to Watkins for further care.

Because eagle remained in poor condition, Manley conducted a lead poisoning test and found that the eagle had a moderately high concentration of lead in its blood.

According to FWS, rehabilitation professionals then used chelation therapy, a series of injections, to help remove the lead from further being absorbed by the sickened eagle.

For six months staff at Watkins continued to work with the eagle as it regained strength and its ability to fly and function independently.

This isn’t the first sick eagle to be brought to the wildlife rehabilitation center this past winter.

According to Watkins, someone found a female bald eagle in February in Dexter acting the same strange way as the one found at Mingo.

Unfortunately, this eagle did not survive.

Watkins said had extremely high levels of lead toxicity and even after weeks of treatment she could not pull through.

FWS said bald eagles can ingest lead in several ways, but the most common is from lead fishing tackle and lead ammunition fragments the come from field dressed deer.

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