MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre Assistant Manager Kiersten Shyian collects blood from one of the centre’s lead poisoned eagles for lead testing. He will need another round of chelation treatment, his fourth. As of Feb. 11, MARS had admitted nine eagles with lead poisoning so far this year. Photo by Gyl Andersen

Island wildlife rescue centre sees 9 poisoned birds since January

MARS trying to fundraise for ‘rigorous and expensive’ lead poisoning treatment

A ninth eagle with lead poisoning has been admitted to Merville’s MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre.

The mature female bald eagle was found on the ground in a Campbell River Park on Feb. 11, a MARS Facebook post said.

“When we found her, she was kind of laying down in the forest, not really standing,” said Kiersten Shyian, assistant manager of wildlife rehabilitation. “She was very wobbly and she was very laboured in her breathing.

A thorough exam and blood test confirmed that the bird’s symptoms were due to lead poisoning.

In 2019, MARS saw a total of nine eagles with lead poisoning. Since the start of the year, the rescue centre has taken care of nine eagles. At least two have come from the Campbell River area.

The wildlife rescue centre’s first patient of 2020 was a bald eagle with lead poisoning that was found off Highway 19A in Ocean Grove.

Shyian said he’s now free of lead, but remains in MARS’ care for other issues. He’s not out of the woods yet, but Shyian said those other health concerns aren’t necessarily due to the lead poisoning.

Bald eagle 57, the mature female found on Feb. 11, is getting better.

“She’s much more alert and she’s a lot feistier than when she came in,” said Shyian.

There are treatment options available for birds with lead poisoning, but it can be costly. MARS launched a fundraiser at the beginning of February to help offset those costs. It’s aiming to raise $3,000, which would cover lead treatment and blood tests for 24 eagles.

Even a single fragment of lead the size of a grain of rice can cause lethal damage to organs and the brain, said MARS.

“Symptoms of lead poisoning include lethargy, anorexia, paralysis, blindness, torticollis, ataxia, tremors, seizures, laboured breathing, and death,” said MARS. “The treatment is rigorous and expensive.”

One round of chelation drug and blood lead tests for treatment costs the centre about $125. It says most poisoned birds will need more than one round and require treatment for secondary infections and symptoms. They may also need extra heat support, fluid therapy and tube or hand feeding multiple times a day, the centre said.

RELATED: B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

The outcome for eagles admitted to the rescue centre with lead poisoning isn’t usually positive.

“So out of the nine that we’ve admitted this year, we’ve had five either die or have to be euthanized because the lead levels are so high,” said Shyian.

Two of the birds currently receiving treatment are “doing really well,” she said. “But even in the future, the lead has already taken a toll on their internal organs.

“We’re not necessarily curing them of lead poisoning, but we are prolonging the life that they’ll have.”

RELATED: Ten poisoned eagles rushed to veterinary hospital in Nanaimo

MARS continues to encourage hunters and anglers to find alternatives to lead for their outdoor pursuits.

“Even if we stop all lead use immediately, the lead that is currently hazardous in the environment will stay there indefinitely,” the rescue centre said in January. “This is a current problem, but will also continue to be one for many generations to come.”

Gyl Andersen, manager of wildlife rehabilitation, told the Mirror at the time that many people just aren’t aware of how lead ammunition affects animals in the environment.

“It’s still going to be present in the environment,” she said. “There’s some lakes that are quite contaminated with lead sinkers and grains of lead and there are animals walking around that probably have lead shot in them and a lot of animals probably have it in their guts as well.

“It persists.”

Shyian said MARS is not against hunting or angling.

“There’s a lot of people out there that based on the things we say and the things we post, they kind of feel that we’re against hunting, which isn’t the case at all,” she said.

Instead, the wildlife centre is encouraging people to use environmentally-friendly alternatives.

The wildlife rescue has a lead poisoning display in the works for its visitor’s centre in Merville.

MARS is accepting donations for its lead poisoning treatment in person at the wildlife rescue centre, over the phone (778-428-2000) or on its website.

RELATED: MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island


@marissatiel
marissa.tiel@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Wildlife

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

 

MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre Assistant Manager Kiersten Shyian collects blood from one of the centre’s lead poisoned eagles for lead testing. He will need another round of chelation treatment, his fourth. As of Feb. 11, MARS had admitted nine eagles with lead poisoning so far this year. Photo by Gyl Andersen

Just Posted

UPDATED: Traffic flowing normally after morning crash on Douglas Street

Traffic at the Douglas and Finlayson streets intersection was temporarily impacted

PHOTOS: Families, spectators wave goodbye to Navy Task Force from Victoria shorelines

HCMS Winnipeg and HCMS Regina sailing to Hawaiian training exercise, further deployments

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

RCMP looking for missing teen in Comox Valley

Jenessa Shacter was last seen going for a walk in downtown Courtenay

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Most Read