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Portland Audubon humanely euthanizes bald eagle found injured on I-84

Feb. 21, 2013: The Audubon Society of Portland’s veterinarian has humanely euthanized a bald eagle that was admitted to Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center yesterday. The male eagle had been hit by a car on Interstate 84 near Rocky Butte, and sustained injuries that caused paralysis in the bird’s lower body.

Portland Audubon humanely euthanizes bald eagle found injured on I-84

Staff and volunteers from Portland Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center examine the bald eagle. Photo by Tinsley Hunsdorfer

Feb. 21, 2013: The Audubon Society of Portland’s veterinarian has humanely euthanized a bald eagle that was admitted to Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center yesterday. The male eagle had been hit by a car on Interstate 84 near Rocky Butte, and sustained injuries that caused paralysis in the bird’s lower body.

“We look at a lot of factors when making this kind of decision, but it ultimately comes down to quality of life,” said Deb Sheaffer, veterinarian for the Audubon Society of Portland. “The eagle simply couldn’t have survived in the wild or in captivity, so it was time to end his suffering.”

Multnomah County Animal Control staff and firefighters from the Portland Fire Bureau rescued the bald eagle and brought it to the Wildlife Care Center Wednesday, Feb. 20. The eagle was in critical condition, and an early exam revealed paralysis of both legs and a probable break in the bird’s left leg. An x-ray confirmed the break and suggested vertebral trauma. Care center staff and volunteers stabilized the bird, treated him for pain and kept him isolated to minimize stress.

“The eagle was still in a stable condition this morning, so we were able to take him for a CT scan at the Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital,” said Sheaffer. “We wanted to determine the full extent of the eagle’s injuries to see if anything could be done to help, and a CT scan provides more detail than an x-ray.”

The scan revealed a fractured vertebra and a blood clot that was pushing on the bird’s spinal cord. This injury resulted in permanent paralysis.

“The scan results made it clear that the most humane course – the only course, really – was to euthanize the eagle,” Sheaffer said.

The Audubon Society of Portland’s Wildlife Care Center is the oldest and busiest wildlife rehabilitation facility in Oregon. Each year, the care center treats about 3,000 animals for release back into the wild and responds to more than 15,000 wildlife-related inquiries. The facility’s goal is to give injured animals a second chance at life in the wild and to reduce wildlife hazards in the community. The care center also conducts research about the problems affecting urban wildlife populations.

Bald Eagle CT scan, February 2013 - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
Portland Audubon veterinarian Deb Sheaffer examines the eagle after a CT scan. Photo by Tinsley Hunsdorfer.
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