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CROW awaits exam results of deceased Captiva eaglet

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Jan 29, 2021

CROW CROW Wildlife Rehabilitator Katie Mueller removes the remains of an eaglet, named Hope, from its nest on Captiva on Jan. 25 so that a necropsy can be conducted.

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is waiting on the results from a necropsy of an eaglet that recently died in its nest on Captiva, in order to determine if rodenticide played a part in its passing.

The eaglet, named Hope, is believed to have died in the early hours of Jan. 24. The nest, located on the property of Lori Covert, contains a private partnership camera with the American Eagle Foundation.

CROW Executive Director Alison Charney Hussey explained that cam watchers observed Hope struggling in the nest, along with “a lot of blood.” Based on the observations, the foundation received permission from federal officials for CROW to access the nest and retrieve the eaglet’s remains.

“We were asked to get involved,” she said. “So that a necropsy could be done.”

Hussey noted that the amount of blood indicated Hope’s blood was not clotting properly.

PHOTO PROVIDED CROW staff perform a brief examination and radiographs of the remains of Hope, an eaglet.

“That gave us evidence of ‘OK, perhaps rodenticide was involved,'” she said, explaining that CROW would not have gotten involved had it appeared the eaglet had passed away from natural causes.

“The only reason that we were allowed to go up and retrieve Hope’s remains was because it was suspected that rodenticide may have played a part in the death,” Hussey added.

On Jan. 25, Wildlife Rehabilitator Katie Mueller removed the eaglet’s remains from the nest and brought them to the CROW Clinic. During the removal process, she noted the following:

– A broken blood feather was found on Hope’s right wing primary feathers. No other signs of trauma were found. Mueller did observe a large amount of blood in the nest. A piece of the broken blood feather was retrieved from the nest and included with the remains.

– No fishing line was observed in the nest or on Hope’s remains.

PHOTO PROVIDED CROW staff perform a brief examination and radiographs of the remains of Hope, an eaglet.

At the clinic, a brief examination and radiographs were performed by CROW’s veterinary team. The eaglet weighed 2.75 kilograms, or about 5 pounds. It is unknown if Hope was a male or female.

The eaglet’s remains were packaged and sent to the Southeastern Cooperative for Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia for a full necropsy, which includes testing for rodenticides.

“Generally, it takes a little over a month for those results to come back,” Hussey said, noting that it may take longer though in light of the pandemic. “As soon as we receive the results, we will share them.”

Less than two weeks before Hope’s death, its sibling — named Peace — died in the nest. Believed to have passed on Jan. 13, the foundation confirmed the loss of the eaglet via social media on Jan. 14.

“It is with sadness that we confirm the loss of Peace, the smaller eaglet in the Captiva nest,” it posted on Facebook. “It’s important to note that these nests are the habitats of wild animals and are a unique glimpse into the beauty and tragedy of nature.”

Hussey reported that CROW was not called to the nest for the first eaglet’s death.

“It appeared, at that point, a potential failure-to-thrive situation,” she said, explaining that no permissions were granted by federal officials and no request for a necropsy was made.

“But we were aware simply because we, like others, are interested in this nest for education purposes and such, and because of our partnership with the American Eagle Foundation,” Hussey added.

Hope’s situation though appears similar to what happened at the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam.

“Almost a year ago, to the day, E14 died. That necropsy did reveal that the eaglet had passed from rodenticide poisoning or that it contributed to its death,” she said of the North Fort Myers nest.

“It this comes back the same, then we’ll have two eaglets within a year,” Hussey added.

There are ways the public can help prevent rodenticide poisoning.

“We understand that homeowners and landowners aren’t excited when they have rodents, and that they want to try and get rid of them,” she said. “Nonetheless, there are alternatives to rodenticide.”

CROW suggests encouraging more natural predators to one’s property by installing owl boxes and such. Old-fashioned snap traps are also recommended, or capture then release rodents elsewhere. One tip is to clean up outdoor trash and do not leave pet food outside as these things can attract rodents.

“When rodenticide or rat positioning is introduced to these rodents, it enters into the food chain and ends up potentially killing beautiful raptors, whether eagles or hawks or owls,” Hussey said. “And we know that’s never anyone’s intention when they’re trying to maintain their property.”

The foundation’s Captiva Eagle Cam follows eagles Connie and Joe.

To check it out, visit https://hdontap.com/index.php/video/stream/captiva-eagle-nest-florida-live. The foundation is also on YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UCWl9BI3rn0-YVCuWS_g2FUw.

For more about the American Eagle Foundation, visit https://www.eagles.org.