Six Critically Ill Poisoned Bald Eagles Treated at West Sound Wildlife Shelter

Posted by on March 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm

West Sound Shelter staff treating eagle

[Read our update of this story.]

Sunday, March 24, the staff and volunteers of West Sound Wildlife responded to an emergency call from Stephanie Estrella of Raindancer Wild Bird Rescue regarding six critically ill bald eagles. The eagles were located in Winlock, Washington. They were feeding off of two horse carcasses that had been euthanized on March 20 and left in a field, exposed to wildlife. The potent drug Euthasol, or pentobarbital sodium, is utilized by veterinarians for painless and rapid euthanasia. The pentobarbital that killed the horses quickly ravaged the eagles.

Currently it is unknown if more animals were exposed to the poison. Coyotes, raccoons, owls, turkey vultures, and eagles, along with countless other species, are native to the area. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating.

All six of the eagles were alive when they reached the Raindancer Wild Bird Rescue in Olympia. After taking in the eagles, Estrella quickly contacted Mike Pratt, Director of Wildlife Services for West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island, and the birds were transported to West Sound.

Tube feeding immature bald eagle

Tube feeding immature bald eagle. Bald eagles have mottled brown plumage until they reach adulthood at 4-5 years.

When the eagles arrived they were in critical condition and required life-saving measures. Some were vomiting and convulsing, while the most critical were unconscious and unresponsive. The small staff of the West Sound Wildlife Shelter, along with Dr. Charles Crawford of Compassionate Critter Care and Dr. Alicia Bye, worked around the clock administering Toxiban, which is activated charcoal, to counteract the effects of the poison. A dozen volunteers provided emergency supportive care.

Two of the eagles remain in critical condition, two are in stable but guarded condition, and two are in recovery. The Shelter’s staff is closely monitoring the birds. The cost of this care for each 24-hour period is estimated to be over $3,000.

West Sound was notified today, March 25, that a seventh poisoned eagle was discovered and transported to The Portland Audubon for treatment.

If you would to support the care of these eagles and the over 1,000 other raptors, birds, and mammals the Shelter will treat this year, you can make a donation at

West Sound Wildlife Shelter holds its most important fundraising event, The Call to the Wild Auction, this year on April 20. For more information, visit their website or call Lisa Horn or Elsa Watson at 206-855-9057.

Story update: Status of 7 Poisoned Eagles that Fed on Carcasses of Euthanized Horses


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Photos courtesy of Dottie Tison.

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Categorized | Animals

9 Responses to “Six Critically Ill Poisoned Bald Eagles Treated at West Sound Wildlife Shelter”

  1. Patrick Kerber says:

    The link in the article is invalid. The correct link is

  2. Pat Webber says:

    I hope that there is follow up with those who left the poisoned carcasses out for wild animals to feed upon. Common sense is at a premium, it seems everything must be spelled out & or required by law. Vets could also be charged with informing folks who euthanize to properly dispose of carcasses. I do commend them for humane euthanization of their horses, rather than neglect of slaughter sales. Best wishes with the eagles, thanks for your work!

  3. Ian says:

    When we had to euthanize our cat, the vet made it clear to us, that should we bury him in the back yard, it was necessary to dig a deep hole, lest animal scavengers eat the carcass and become ill or die. Just like these eagles. I can't imagine why this horse was just left in a field full of poison?

  4. paddylol says:

    How many bald and golden eagles, other migratory birds, and bats are killed by wind turbines in WA in each year? Plenty!

    Where is the outrage?

  5. JTL says:

    Ridiculous. Sounds harsh, but just shoot them. Seriously!

  6. Rebecca says:

    It would be very good to know if those responsible for the poisoned carcasses bear legal responsibility for the rescue of the endangered eagles.

  7. brian chase says:

    I don't know. Maybe the horse owners didn't understand the danger of leaving them out in the field to rot. You're all being kind of harsh on them without knowing all the facts. They have already spent a lot of money euthanizing two horses and now you want them fined and/or imprisoned for unintentionally poisoning seven eagles and maybe some other wildlife?
    Also, I don't find JTL's comment overly harsh. If done correctly, shooting a horse that needs to be put to sleep would be no more traumatic for the horse than getting a big dose of poison. When Bainbridge cops respond to a deer hit by a driver, they shoot the deer if necessary.
    Also, I didn't think Bald Eagles were endangered anymore.
    It always amazes me the amount of resources and money that is spent on rescuing and rehabilitating animals – even such animals as raccoons. It's all just to make us humans feel good. Is some common sense in order here?

  8. Marcie says:

    The big point here is that people use poison to kill animals. What people need to think about is that when an animals dies from poisoning, other animals come along and feed on the body. You poison mice, rats, moles etc. you may also be killing the owls, hawks, crows, eagles and raccoons for instance. You get rid of one mouse problem, you may have the ripple affect of killing several other types of wildlife – oh yea, also the neighbors or your own, cat and dog! We need to think a little further down the road before we act. It is not all about you, what you like, don't like or don't care about – if you can solve a "problem" by using methods that will keep all other animals and people safe, then only do it in that way. Be a good human being.


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