Monday, January 26, 2009

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 01/26/2009

Death of a Golden, A Rehabbers Point of View

Last week in this blog, you saw photos of golden eagle # 09-0038, a stunningly beautiful first year male with a nape of golden feathers, indicative of life on sunny crags.  Sadly this sun filled life was snuffed out by a senseless and secondary encounter with lead shot.

Without getting into the lead shot issue which is a big topic for another day, suffice it to say, this eagle was doing his job as a bird of prey—culling out the weak in order to strengthen the prey species.  Unfortunately he couldn’t know that the “weak one” was weakened by lead shot.

Once the eagle, # 09-0038 ingested the lead from his prey, the digestive system efficiently sent it on its way to absorption into the blood stream and the deadly stage was set.  It was absorbed though out the body including the bones.  Eventually he became anemic, weak and unable to hunt. 

This set off other time bombs.  He became ataxic, leaving his muscular abilities compromised.  His powerful talons, major tools for survival, were crippled to a bent knuckle stance—scraped, scabby, useless even for standing, much less for procuring food.  Aspergilosis, an opportunistic fungus, almost always present, capitalized on a weakened system and began its dirty work—and with the resultant labored breathing the death knell got louder. Then, as if this weren’t enough, visceral gout set in as a result of the severe loss of weight causing # 09-0038 to begin to consume his own organs for food to support his ebbing life.

At this point, it was a strike three situation.  Until then, hope was alive in all of the people who came together to help this creature.  To the people who found him and took the time to call for assistance; to the Game and Fish employee who got him to the first relay; to the Vet in Payson who triaged him and the Rescue and Transport volunteers who brought him in to Liberty Wildlife; to the Medical Services staff and volunteers who valiantly fought to give him the strength to stave off the insidious villain; but hope waned. 

Golden Eagle # 09-0038 succumbed despite all of the hope and all of the efforts.  He died unable to do battle anymore.  No more life on sunny crags—stopped before his prime, stopped before his time—all from the use of lead shot. 

But, you know, lead bullets are cheaper, more accurate, and clearly for # 09-0038 they are so very, very deadly.

Dr.Orr and Jan study the golden's X-ray
A tragic loss...

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