6 Feb 2015

Bald Eagles poisoned because local county animal shelter is dumping euthanized animals at dump instead of cremating the pets

The bald eagle—the symbol of our nation—which is protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, faces a new threat in Marion County today.
Michelle Whitfield, Head of the wildlife department at the Animis Foundation, said bald eagles and other wildlife are being poisoned, but not how one would think.
The Animis Foundation alleges that the Marion County Animal Shelter has been dumping euthanized animals at the Marion County Baseline Landfill, which is located next to the shelter.
Whitfield said two years ago when a bald eagle was found dying at the landfill, Animis and Dr. Shannon Kennedy performed a toxicology screen on the eagle’s blood. She said the results were disturbing. Test results showed the eagle had been poisoned with phenobarbital, a drug commonly used by veterinarians to euthanize animals.
Phenobarbital is a barbiturate, which slows the activity of the brain and nervous system.
Whitfield said it appears that the eagles are eating the dead animals; therefore, the phenobarbital is being passed onto the eagles.
Now, residents want to know if the animals are being discarded like trash instead of incinerated. Questions about whether or not the drug could seep into the aquifer have also been raised.
“Animis contacted authorities two years ago when we made the discovery. We were under the impression that Audubon would be testing all eagles and reporting the findings to the Florida Wildlife Service (FWS),” said Whitfield. “Yesterday, I found out that nobody has been testing the birds. All of the proper authorities were notified, but nothing has been done.”
On February 2, 2015, two bald eagles were found near death at the Baseline Landfill. The eagles were treated for poisoning. Once stabilized, they would be transported to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey.
Marion County officials released the following statement:
“This afternoon, we were made aware of citizen concerns expressed on social media and via emails regarding two distressed bald eagles found at the county landfill facility on Monday. While bird and eagle sightings are not uncommon at landfills, we don’t frequently encounter distressed wildlife at our facility. In these situations, however, addressing the animals’ well-being becomes staff’s first priority. On that day, Solid Waste immediately contacted a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), per FWC protocol. As of today, Solid Waste has reached out to the FWC and the rehabilitator for continued updates. The cause of the eagles’ distress is not known or confirmed by any official tests at this time.”

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