Wildlife experts warn public after bald eagle dies from ingesting rat poison

One local wildlife rescue is raising awareness about *rat poison. This comes after staff say a bald eagle came into their care after eating a poisoned rodent.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 8:17 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FREEPORT, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Wildlife experts are warning of the unintended consequences of rat poison and other common household chemicals after a bald eagle died.

The bald eagle was brought to the Alaqua Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and staff say after some testing, they learned it had ingested rat poison; also known as rodenticide.

The center’s Wildlife Director Shelby Proie said as soon as they got the lab results, she knew the bird had a slim chance of survival.

“It wasn’t acting mentally appropriate; it wasn’t able to fly,” Proie said. “This particular type of rodenticide, zinc phosphate, is irreversible. So all you can really do is offer supportive care and hope it can get the toxins out of its system. But the chances of recovery are slim to none”

Proie said cases where birds of prey come in suffering from chemical poisoning are not uncommon.

“Almost half of the bald eagle patients we get in here have been in effect of secondary poisoning like rodenticide or lead poisoning. So unfortunately it’s very common,” Proie said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that in the mid-1900s, bald eagles nearly went extinct. They report that the species’ endangerment was due to to habitat destruction, hunting, and pesticides. Now, wildlife activists are trying to stop that from happening again.

“There’s really not much we can do in the rehabilitation community except for educating the public.” Proie said. “I’m sure the person that was trying to kill the rats in their house or their yard weren’t intending on killing a bald eagle, but that happens more than people think. We need to make more conscious decisions on what happens after that poison is put down.”

Wildlife experts at the refuge said it’s important to be aware of humanity’s impact on the surrounding ecosystems and learning how to protect the wildlife.

Proie said the Alaqua Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is a nonprofit organization that provides free service to the community, and depends entirely on donations.

If you would like to support the center, there will be a Wild & Free Festival fundraiser on Saturday, March 25.

For more information about the festival, click here.