More injured eagles than ever fill the Raptor Center

Experts are unsure of the cause of the increase.

Gladdie the bald eagle sits on display in a habitat at the Raptor Center on the St. Paul campus on Monday. Gladdie is permanently injured and stays at the Raptor Center for educational purposes. The Raptor Center treats injured eagles like Gladdie, many of which were harmed during deer hunting season.

Maddy Fox

Gladdie the bald eagle sits on display in a habitat at the Raptor Center on the St. Paul campus on Monday. Gladdie is permanently injured and stays at the Raptor Center for educational purposes. The Raptor Center treats injured eagles like Gladdie, many of which were harmed during deer hunting season.

Kristina Busch

More sick eagles than ever are turning up throughout the state, but experts say they are unsure of the cause of the increase.

 

For unknown reasons, Julia Ponder, executive director of the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center said the rate of injured eagles started to rise before the hunting season began.

 

There is normally an increase in injured eagles during deer hunting season and a month or two after, she said

 

“Hunting season is our busy season for injured eagles,” she said. “We see a lot of lead-poisoned eagles who had been scavenging on guts and other sources of lead from spent ammunition.”

 

So far this year, demand for the center’s services has been higher than ever, she said.

 

In the case of coming across an injured raptor — predatory birds with hooked beaks and keen eyesight — Ponder said people should call the Raptor Center.

 

“Once someone calls the Raptor Center, we talk them through the situation,” she said. “We evaluate if the bird is, in fact, a raptor, whether the behavior of the bird is normal and whether it appears to be injured or ill.”

She said people who came across an injured or sick raptor can be coached on how to contain the bird. Once contained, the center will arrange to bring the bird to the clinic for evaluation, she said.