State wildlife officials are warning everyone to be cautious if they come across another sick eagle. 16 bald eagles have died in recent weeks from a mysterious illness. Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease coordinator with the Division of Wildlife Resources, says they thought it might be lead poisoning at first, but now they know that’s not the problem.
McFarlane says it’s good that residents want to help these sick eagles when they find them, but dealing with the birds is best left to the professionals.
“And part of the reason that we are advising against that is at this time, where we don’t know why these birds are sick, or why they have died, it’s really critical that the public not go out and handle them,” McFarlane says.
Dalyn Erickson-Marthaler is the executive director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. She says it’s been a rough three weeks for everyone involved.
“We have never seen anything like this…one species coming in and so many of them in such a short span of time,” says Erickson-Marthaler.
The total population of bald eagles in Utah this time of year is estimated to be between 700 and 1200. Wildlife officials say it’ll be at least next week before they have lab results on the unknown disease.