Several bald eagles have died recently in Western Washington, despite efforts to save them at local rescue centers. Many of the deaths are connected to human activity.
"He or she is very thin," said veterinarian Lesanna Lahner, examining a bald eagle that recently died. "I'm also going to be checking the wings to see if there's any sign of damage to the wings."
Lahner already has a pretty good idea what killed the eagle, recently brought to Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Arlington. Before the eagle died, he left a clue for clinic manager Jessie Paollelo.
"Once we started flushing her system, she started throwing up all the garbage she had ingested," Paollelo said. "It's our fault this eagle died, because we're not taking care of the environment. They're eating our garbage. It's really sad this had to happen."
Much of the trash is latex or plastic.
The juvenile bald eagle is one of three to die at Sarvey in the last few weeks. One died of lead poisoning, likely from eating game hunted with lead shot. It's the same toxicity that killed another bald eagle, despite efforts to save the bird at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue. They're currently caring for another bald eagle, this one starving.
Starvation can be the result of eating garbage like this one did.
"Prevented him, then, from having his next meal. When wild animals miss a couple meals, they're weak, they can't fly. When a bird can't fly, that's a significant problem," Lahner said. "Bald eagles, even though they're majestic creatures, if they can get a free meal from scavenging, they'd prefer to get a free meal scavenging…or stealing someone else's food than hunting it themselves. So, they're at higher risk for eating trash."