Autopsy results show Northville bald eagle died of rodent poisoning
A bald eagle found in a state of distress on a bike path in Northville Township on November 20, 2021 died the same day from rodenticide poisoning, a Department of Natural Resources autopsy revealed.
“At some point, the bird ingested prey likely poisoned by brodifacoum,” said Hannah Schauer, communications and education coordinator for DNR’s Wildlife Division.
“Brodifacoum, which is a rodenticide, was found in analysis of the bird’s liver. Gross examination results showed that the bird had pulmonary congestion and pulmonary edema as well as haemorrhages at the surface of the lungs and heart and congestion of the liver and kidneys.”
Schauer said the final diagnosis is labeled brodifacoum toxicosis.
Due to the toxicology results, the bird’s carcass was cremated at the request of the Federal Eagle Repository, Schauer added.
Normally, once a bald eagle’s cause of death is determined, its carcass is transported to the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City, Colorado. Native American communities often submit orders for pairs of wings, tails, heads, pairs of talons or the bird’s trunk, the US Fish and Wildlife Service website says.
Because the bird found in Northville Township died of rodenticide poisoning, its body parts cannot be used by Native American communities.
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Anticoagulant rodenticides like brodifacoum are a type of rodent poison that kills by preventing blood from clotting normally, leading to internal bleeding or fatal bleeding, according to a wildlife-focused website based in Massachusetts, where two eagles have died to rodenticides since March 2021.
“Birds of prey can be poisoned by anticoagulant rodenticides in two ways: 1) primary poisoning when an animal eats the bait directly and dies several days later; or 2) secondary poisoning when a predator or scavenger eats a prey that consumed the bait.” a message on the website said. “While bald eagles primarily eat fish, they are opportunistic foragers and will feed on or prey on a variety of animals. ”
Last year, 32 dead bald eagles were reported in New York alone. A total of 21 birds or parts of birds (both from bald eagles and golden eagles) were returned to the state from Federal Repository for use by Native Americans for religious/ceremonial purposes .
More than 3,000 orders were fulfilled last year by the repository, and the current order book exceeds 6,000, according to the website.
Northville Township resident Bob Ondrus spotted the distressed bald eagle on a bike path that runs behind his home in the Northville Ridge subdivision, about half a mile east of the landfill. Arbor Hills on Six Mile and Napier Roads in Salem.
“I heard a whoosh sound,” Ondrus explained. “When I looked at the cycle path that runs behind our garden, I saw a bald eagle sitting there. It was very unusual as I have never seen an eagle near this area.
“I found it weird too, because eagles don’t usually land near humans. It was almost like she saw me there and told me she needed help.”
When Ondrus grabbed his camera and walked to where the eagle had landed, he realized the situation was dire.
“It looked a bit giddy when I approached it,” Ondrus said. “Then he took his wings out and I knew it was no good. There was no blood visible, but you could tell something was wrong.”
The eagle was transported to the Howell Nature Center before being transferred to the Eaton Rapids-based Wildside Rehabilitation & Education Center, which is capable of testing birds of prey for lead poisoning. The eagle died shortly after arriving in Eaton Rapids.
Contact reporter Ed Wright at [email protected] or 517-375-1113.