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Wildlife Images photo
A bald eagle known as Patient 18-748 tests her flying skills. After being nursed back to health at Wildlife Images, she will be released into the wild Wednesday in Brookings.

Bald eagle ready to fly free

BROOKINGS — A young bald eagle nearly killed by rodenticide poisoning will get her flight back to freedom Wednesday in Brookings, ending the latest success story for Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center.

The eagle, known as Patient 18-748, went from unable to stand when she was found at Harris Beach State Park in late July to punching her ticket to freedom back where she was found after four months of rehab.

The bird was the first bald eagle rehabbed and released into the wild from Wildlife Images this year, though a juvenile golden eagle was released in July in the Applegate Valley.

Wildlife Images rehabbed and released three bald eagles last year.

“Our batting average for eagles is pretty dang good,” said Wildlife Images Executive Director David Siddon.

It was the latest example of how rat poison and other rodenticides used outdoors can be the bane of raptors, Pacific fishers, other wildlife and even pets that eat poisoned rats, mice and other rodents.

Rodenticides kill small animals by causing them to bleed from the inside-out, leaving them lethargic and disoriented as they die.

“That looks like a great prey opportunity for an eagle, especially a young one,” said Erin Maxson, Wildlife Images director of community relations. “We think she ate quite a few (poisoned) rodents. That’s how she got so sick so fast.”

Discovered at Harris Beach, she was captured by an Oregon State Police trooper and taken to Town & Country Animal Clinic in Gold Beach before arriving at Wildlife Images near Merlin.

“When she got here, she was so sick she couldn’t stand,” Maxson said.

Rehabbers turned to their tried-and-true antidote — vitamin K — to reverse the rodenticide’s effects on Patient 18-748, one of more than 1,000 sick or injured animals treated at the facility annually.

Vitamin K helps the blood to thicken and clot, and she needed doses every four hours to stay alive.

She eventually graduated to a feeding tube and then to food served with tongs.

Two weeks later, she stood on her own and was able to feed herself.

Two weeks ago, the eagle was shipped to the Cascade Raptor Center in Eugene, where a 100-foot flight enclosure allowed the eagle to build her flying strength and practice hunting again, paving the way for Wednesday’s release.

Siddon said the quick response by OSP and clinic employees put Patient 18-748 on a trajectory for a rehab victory.

“That first 24 to 48 hours is super critical to success,” Siddon said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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