A rescued bald eagle who made headlines after coming to life in the back of a 100 Mile man’s van has died.
Rob Hope, raptor care manager, for the OWL Rehabilitation Centre in Delta, confirmed Tuesday that the eagle had “passed away” after nearly two weeks at the facility. Blood tests had shown the raptor suffered from lead poisoning and he was being treated for medication to reverse some of the effects.
“He was lead poisoned as well as hit by a car so he had a double whammy,” Hope said.
Hope said the eagle “may have been looking for an easy meal” close to the road when it got struck by a car on Highway 97 and was found by the passing motorist. Thinking it was dead, the motorist put the eagle in his van, intending to deliver it to 100 Mile House Conservation Officer Joel Kline.
“He was lethargic probably. When they ingest lead it messes with their brains,” Hope said.
The eagle gave the motorist a fright when it woke up and start flapping around in the van. The driver immediately pulled into the RCMP detachment and met an officer coming on duty, who took some photos of the bird and contacted Kline who had airlifted to the Delta rehabilitation facility.
Lead poisoning is common in eagles because of their scavenging nature. Many of them can ingest lead fragments from spent bullets in the gut piles left behind from moose or deer kills, Hope said. They can also ingest lead from ducks or fish, such as Rainbow trout, which may have swallowed lead sinkers from fishing lines.
“A piece of lead the size of a grain of rice will eventually kill an eagle,” Hope said. “There are a bunch of ways of them getting it. It’s sort of a battlefront for us.”
The RCMP reminds the public to be cautious about approaching any wild animal that appears to be deceased on the highway. Contact the Conservation Office hotline at 1-877-855-3222 or contact the local RCMP Detachment prior to approaching the animal.