Veterinary technicians at VCA Canada Island Animal Hospital treat two bald eagles after a spate of poisonings in North Cowichan this past week. (Submitted)

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

A dozen poisoned bald eagles have been found in the Cowichan Valley since Wednesday, and rescuers are hoping to find any other sick birds, as well as the source of the poisoning.

“It’s pretty disturbing, finding so many sick and dead eagles,” said The Raptors general manager Robyn Radcliffe, who has been part of the search for the ailing animals.

Two eagles were brought in on Wednesday from the same location, although they were found at different times. Poisoning wasn’t suspected initially, but after the birds were taken to a veterinarian in Nanaimo, that was determined to be the cause.

Another call came in on Saturday from a conservation officer who had located two more birds — one dead and one sick — in a similar spot, so a search was undertaken that uncovered another eight eagles in various states of health.

Of the 12 poisoned eagles, six came in alive and are likely to survive, while the other six were already dead.

The birds have been found in the Herd Road area of North Cowichan, and an investigation is underway by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. It seems likely, Radcliffe said, that the eagles were not intentionally poisoned, but probably fed off the carcass of a euthanized farm animal that wasn’t properly disposed of.

“If a bird eats an animal that has been euthanized, it will kill it pretty quick,” she said.

Proper disposal of euthanized animals is covered by law, but best practices are that they should be buried at least six feet deep so scavengers can’t eat the poisoned remains, Radcliffe said.

“We need to be really aware of what’s going out in the environment,” she commented. “Bald eagles are an indicator species. That’s why this shows up in them.”

It’s not unusual for many birds to feed off the same carcass, Radcliffe pointed out.

“A dead deer could have 10 to 40 eagles feeding off it, in addition to ravens and vultures in the spring and summer.”

Heading out on another search on Sunday morning, Radcliffe was optimistic that most of the victims had already been located. Anyone who finds a dead or sick eagle should contact the Raptor Rescue Society at 778-936-0732.

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

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Adaptation, not blame, required in COVID-19 crisis

Analysis must be about finding out what happened and prevent it happening again, says letter writer

Downtown Nanaimo hotel shows love and appreciation for front-line workers

Coast Bastion illuminates windows in the shape of hearts, hopes other buildings do the same

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation finding new ways to feed students during COVID-19 pandemic

Hampers being delivered to those in need in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district

Beefs & Bouquets, April 8

To submit a beef or bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Count in Nanaimo indicates 25 per cent increase in homelessness

Nanaimo Homeless Coalition’s count suggests at least 425 people experiencing homelessness

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

COVID-19 world update: 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims; alcohol sales banned in Bangkok

Comprehensive digest of coronavirus news items from around the world

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

VIDEO: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

Traffic is being diverted around Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read