College of Veterinary Medicine |
advance featured stories 2012

Healthy Animals, Healthy People, Healthy Planet

Bald Eagle Released After Treatment for Lead Poisoning


by Marcia Hill Gossard '99, '04


Bald Eagle released
Sauder, a five-year-old bald eagle, was released on March 12,
2012, after being treated for lead poisoning. Dr. Nickol Finch
(left), head of the exotic and wildlife unit, and Alexis Adams
(right), veterinary technician.

A five-year-old bald eagle was brought to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in January after he was found in a ditch near Orofino, Idaho. After determining that the eagle showed signs of severe lead poisoning, Dr. Nickol Finch, head of the exotic and wildlife unit, gave him intravenous fluids and chelation therapy, which binds the lead so it can be eliminated through the kidneys.

Birds can get lead poisoning from ingesting shotgun pellets and bullet fragments in animal carcasses. Because bald eagles are scavengers, they are more likely to be exposed to lead through food.

“He’s one of the lucky ones,” said Finch, who, a few days before, was unable to save a golden eagle brought in with lead poisoning. Dr. Finch named the bird “Sauder,” after the Idaho fish and game biologist who rescued him.


If you find an injured raptor, seek help from a local wildlife agent or veterinarian, or call the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 509-335-0711. To learn more about raptors at WSU, www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/raptors.
Washington State University