Mountainaire Avian Rescue staff and volunteers responded on May 3rd, 2010 to a call to rescue a number of eagles found floundering near the Campbell River Landfill. Upon arrival, five birds were found to be affected, unable to fly away and a sixth did manage to escape capture. Ministry of Environment and City of Campbell River were contacted who notified the landfill and visited the site shortly afterwards. The five eagles were brought into MARS wildlife centre located in Merville where they were assessed and then taken into two local vet clinics for examination.
Blood was drawn on the birds, which was subsequently sent to the Animal Health Lab in Abbotsford and the eagles returned to MARS for treatment with charcoal gavage. Supportive care was given until the birds recovered. The poison was identified as sodium pentobarbital – a “controlled” substance used by veterinarians to euthanize animals. This is a humane method of euthansia and is used routinely.
The problem occurs when animals are not incinerated and are returned to owners for disposal. Although many of these owners may chose to bury their pets in their back yards, it is imperative that they are buried deeply to ensure that no other scavenger can later dig up the remains. The toxin remains active for some time and can affect any other animal that may consume even parts of this. In this case the animal was not buried at all, but left at the landfill without advising the operators. Advising the landfill that you have an animal that was euthanized will ensure proper and immediate disposal.
MARS is encouraging all who own animals to consider the end of life of these animals and advises that all euthanized animals should be incinerated to prevent this type of incident from re-occuring. If you wish, you may ask that the ashes to be returned to you for a ceremony to celebrate your pet’s life. Alternately a 6′ deep grave must be dug and we also advise you to plant a tree or shrub over this or a heavy placque may also be used.
Please protect our wildlife who are only reacting naturally and do not understand the toxins that we place in their environment. Four of the five Bald Eagles were able to be released back to the wild shortly afterwards. The fifth eagle was euthanized later due to trauma received during this event. This bald eagle will be incinerated to prevent further mishaps.