Posted: Jan 30, 2013 6:43 PM by Beth Beechie - MTN News
Updated: Jan 30, 2013 6:43 PM
After spending almost a month in a Helena rehab center, a poisoned bald eagle was released back into her natural habitat on Wednesday near Vaughn.
In early January, Miriam Walters and a friend were walking their dogs on her property when they noticed a bald eagle; Walters is no stranger to these regal birds on her land, but this one was different.
Walters recalled, "When she did start to walk, she had a pretty difficult time walking and obviously didn't fly away. So we knew something was wrong."
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service picked up the bird and she was taken to a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks rehabilitation center in Helena.
They didn't see any physical injuries to the bird, so they performed a routine blood check and received astonishing results.
Lisa Rhodin, FWP wildlife rehab expert, said, "The lead levels are measured in microorganisms per deciliter, and hers were off the scale, even when I diluted the blood."
FWP used a technique called chelation therapy where the kidneys can filter out the toxins, and after more than three weeks of treatment, the eagle was able to be released back into its natural habitat right around breeding season.
Rhodin said, "There's a good chance that she already has a territory here, she has a mate here. So she shouldn't have to fight those battles over again."
Rhodin says bald eagles often mate for life, so while it's uncertain whether this bird had a mate, getting her back out in the wild was a goal they wanted to achieve.
Amy Graham of Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge said, "She definitely made a pretty amazing recovery. Most birds that have lead poisoning as bad as she did, they don't make it. So it is pretty neat to think that she's flying out around again."