Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eagle Update #1-- February 17, 2010
Here is the surgical story of the Bald Eagle from our partners at Gentle Vet Animal Hospital...

Friday, February 12 was a typical day at Gentle Vet Animal Hospital until the staff of the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary arrived with an injured bald eagle. The bird had been hit by a vehicle in the Crivitz area. She was very weak, and did not put up much of a fight, which is not normal for eagles, even sick ones!

Dr Gray was concerned that this bird might have multiple injuries, and could also have other health conditions which had weakened her so that she wasn’t able to avoid the passing car. He and the technicians gave the eagle a complete physical exam, and collected a blood sample for testing in our laboratory. Dr. Gray found a severe wound to the eagle’s left elbow; most of the skin had been peeled away.
View of left wing xray

view of right wing fracture

X-rays showed another serious problem; there was a fracture of the lower part of the radius bone in the right wing, just above the wrist. The skin was not broken in this area, which was good news. But in order to fly well, eagles must have nearly perfect function of their wings, and the fracture was close to the joint.
By the time the exam and x-rays were done, the blood results were also finished. We could see that the bird had no signs of internal bleeding, and no organ damage. This was good news, but we still had a very shocky bird.
Dr Gray considered the options, and decided that the best course would be to stabilize the eagle for a few days, then perform surgery to close the skin wound and repair the fracture. He prescribed antibiotics and pain medication, and bandaged the eagle’s wounds. The bird returned to the Wildlife Sanctuary for treatment over the weekend.
On Monday, February 15, we were delighted to see a much stronger eagle! The bird was much more difficult to handle, which is a good sign for her, but a challenge for the staff! Dr. Gray anesthetized the eagle, placed an intravenous catheter, and had her prepped for surgery. All during the surgery, Cindy, a Certified Veterinary Technician, monitored the eagle’s vitals signs and controlled the gas anesthesia. After an hour and a half, the eagle was sporting four stainless steel pins in her broken radius, and the wound on the other elbow had been closed. It took thirty stitches just to close that wound!
Things are looking good, but we are in the difficult “watching and waiting” period. The bird looks great, but it will be several more days before we know how well the skin wound heals, and several weeks before we can tell how well the fracture heals. Dr Gray is continuing to monitor her closely, and we’ll keep you posted on her progress!
The Staff of Gentle Vet Animal Hospital

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hello wildlife enthusiasts!
The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary would like to welcome you to our new blog series about a Bald Eagle that we are rehabilitating. We have many goals we would like to achieve with this blog series. We will not only give you periodic updates about the bird’s journey through the Wildlife Rehabilitation program; we are also going to talk about the history of eagles in our area, the natural behavior of eagles, and where you can see eagles on your own. We are also going to write about how caring for wildlife at the sanctuary is a community effort. From the police officer that first responded, to the DNR officer that gave the bird a ride here, to the veterinarians at Gentle Vet Animal Hospital who did the surgery, to the staff and volunteers who care for the eagle and hopefully return him/her back into the sky soaring free once again.

This immature eagle was brought into us on Friday, February 12th from the Crivitz area after being hit by a car. Once the bird was reported to the police, the officer contacted the DNR office. The DNR official then drove it to the sanctuary for care. The quick response of the police officer and DNR agent saved this bird’s life: the sooner an injured or orphaned animal can get to a licensed rehabilitator, the better its chances are to return to the wild. When this eagle arrived at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, we did a thorough exam and contacted our veterinarians at Gentle Vet Animal Hospital to have an x-ray done and have his/her wounds analyzed.

This eagle is known as 10R6. It does not have a name, since this is a wild animal and not a pet, which we honor and respect at all times. All of the 4,000+ orphaned and injured animals brought in annually are important, but some, as this eagle, require more extensive care and a longer time with us. From the initial transport, to the first exam, surgery, recovery, flight training, evaluation, to the final disposition, eagles can take months of rehabilitation. Our goal is always to return wildlife back into the wild where they belong, but sometimes that is not possible. For example, there may be complications in recovery, or tendons and muscles do not heal in the precise manner they need to and the bird has trouble flying. When this happens, we try to place an animal with our facility or another facility, or if the animal is suffering and all of our options to relieve the pain have been exhausted, humane euthanasia is performed. Again, our goal is always to release; we do everything we can for every animal that comes through these doors, from the smallest bunny to the largest eagle.