Authorities in the US are investigating after three bald eagles died and 10 more became sick after coming into contact with a drug used for executuions.
The stricken birds were found at a landfill site near Inver Grove Heights in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US.
A total of 10 birds are being cared for at the University of Minnesota Raptor Centre and experts are optimistic the birds will recover.
The first was brought in on December 4, while US Fish and Wildlife workers brought the last in on December 6, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The University of Minnesota said: “On Sunday, December 4, the Inver Grove Heights Police Department brought in a sick juvenile bald eagle that they had found in the snow.
“On intake, TRC’s Medical Director, Dr. Dana, found that it was highly likely that it was suffering from pentobarbital poisoning.”
Some of the birds, a beloved symbol of the US, were found lying face down in the snow. Those who found them were not sure if the birds were still alive when they were found.
It is believed they consumed a part of a carcass of an animal euthanised by pentobarbital a drug commonly used in death penalty executions.
The university added: “The next day, December 5, another bird in similar condition was found in the same area near a landfill in Inver Grove Heights.
“TRC volunteers immediately went out to rescue it and quickly found not 1 but 9 additional birds also showing similar clinical signs.
“On December 6, US Fish and Wildlife found one more eagle, bringing the number of eagles admitted to TRC to 11.”
According to Death Penalty Info, pentobarbital has been used in fourteen states which are: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia.
The capital punishment experts also said five more states plan to use the drug, which can be used in the short-term to treat insomnia or as an emergency treatment for seizures. The depressant is lethal in large quantities.
In total, 11 eagles were brought to The Raptor Centre, one of which also had bird flu and has since died. Two more of the winged creatures were found dead at the landfill.
Investigators into the incident discovered the carcass was brought to the landfill on December 2 along with other euthanised animals.
A fund has been set up to help care for the animals with a goal of $10,000 (£8,400). So far, $7,857 (£6,600) has been raised with the promise of one could agreeing to match donations up to $5,000 (£4,200).
One donor said: “I see the eagles around Red Wing and they are just spectacular. I can’t believe this has happened to these majestic birds.
“Sending thoughts of strength and hope to the birds and team helping them.”
This article by Benjamin Lynch was first published by The Mirror on 12 December 2022. Lead Image: Bald eagles are much-loved in the US.
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