Veterinary technicians at VCA Canada Island Animal Hospital treat two bald eagles after a spate of poisonings in North Cowichan this past week. (Submitted)

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

A dozen poisoned bald eagles have been found in the Cowichan Valley since Wednesday, and rescuers are hoping to find any other sick birds, as well as the source of the poisoning.

“It’s pretty disturbing, finding so many sick and dead eagles,” said The Raptors general manager Robyn Radcliffe, who has been part of the search for the ailing animals.

Two eagles were brought in on Wednesday from the same location, although they were found at different times. Poisoning wasn’t suspected initially, but after the birds were taken to a veterinarian in Nanaimo, that was determined to be the cause.

Another call came in on Saturday from a conservation officer who had located two more birds — one dead and one sick — in a similar spot, so a search was undertaken that uncovered another eight eagles in various states of health.

Of the 12 poisoned eagles, six came in alive and are likely to survive, while the other six were already dead.

The birds have been found in the Herd Road area of North Cowichan, and an investigation is underway by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. It seems likely, Radcliffe said, that the eagles were not intentionally poisoned, but probably fed off the carcass of a euthanized farm animal that wasn’t properly disposed of.

“If a bird eats an animal that has been euthanized, it will kill it pretty quick,” she said.

Proper disposal of euthanized animals is covered by law, but best practices are that they should be buried at least six feet deep so scavengers can’t eat the poisoned remains, Radcliffe said.

“We need to be really aware of what’s going out in the environment,” she commented. “Bald eagles are an indicator species. That’s why this shows up in them.”

It’s not unusual for many birds to feed off the same carcass, Radcliffe pointed out.

“A dead deer could have 10 to 40 eagles feeding off it, in addition to ravens and vultures in the spring and summer.”

Heading out on another search on Sunday morning, Radcliffe was optimistic that most of the victims had already been located. Anyone who finds a dead or sick eagle should contact the Raptor Rescue Society at 778-936-0732.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shipyard upgrade on Port Alberni’s waterfront means MV Frances Barkley retrofit happens at home

Canadian Maritime Engineering expands equipment to accept larger vessels

BUDGET 2020: City of Port Alberni department heads asked to justify costs

Faulty firefighter breathing gear, ballooning Uptown costs, train marketing all questioned

Port Alberni café, pair of teens rally support for Australia bush fire relief

Boomerangs Café plans three-day fundraiser; teens prepare to help in wildlife recovery

Agricultural Land Commission approves cannabis facility in Beaver Creek

Proposed facility outside Port Alberni had been caught up in ALR red tape

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

University of Victoria tells stories of Holocaust survivors with graphic novels

International storytelling initiative launched first meetings this winter

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Most Read