WATCH: A 14th eagle has now died in the rash of suspected poisonings and mystery illnesses impacting eagles on Vancouver Island in recent weeks.
The sick eagles have been pouring in from the North Island and Cowichan Valley, and as wildlife rescuers look for the causes of the illnesses, they’re also trying to save the remaining sick birds.
Wildlife rescuers carry crate after crate of precious cargo into the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre Monday. They’re bringing in four of the surviving eagles of a grizzly poisoning incident in the Cowichan Valley that’s left six eagles dead.
“This week’s just been absolutely devastating for the eagles on the Island,” said North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre’s Tawny Molland.
“It’s crazy. I don’t know if this will ever happen again where we’ve had two separate situations involving eagles,” said Molland.
The eagles were all located in the Cowichan Valley Saturday, some already dead, others on the verge of death.
Rescuers say they suspect the birds had been feeding on a euthanized farm animal that had been wrongly disposed of, but BC Conservation Officer Service says they’re still investigating.
“We want to make sure we have the facts before we release any information,” said Conservation Officer Scott Norris. “So until we know for sure we’re not going to say what we think it is.”
Meantime, eagles from across the North Island are continuing to die.
Eight eagles have been killed in two weeks, all with similar respiratory symptoms.
A well-known breeding female eagle of Hornby Island died this weekend at Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society in Melville. Staff tell CHEK News, testing now reveals that the eagle’s extreme respiratory distress was caused by lead poisoning.
“So until we know what’s going on, we could see some more coming in,” said Molland.
“Sometimes these things are done on purpose sometimes these things are done by mistake,” said Norris. “We want to know what the cause was to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
B.C. conservation officers say charges related to the poisonings are possible and testing on the birds of prey is now underway. As of late Monday no further sick eagles have been reported on Vancouver Island.