Eagle in 'nip and tuck' battle to live

June 22, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

The prognosis is not good for a young bald eagle found staggering down the middle of a rural Edgewater road yesterday.

The eagle, which was rescued by two passing motorists, faces a "nip and tuck" battle for its life, a Baltimore veterinarian said.

The 1- to 2-year-old bird "should be strong and at its peak," said Kim Hammond, owner of the Falls Road Animal Hospital, where it is being treated in a "shock trauma" unit for shock, a broken wing and multiple puncture wounds.

The young bird hasn't yet grown its signature crown of white feathers, he added.

Bald eagles usually live 10 to 15 years.

Mr. Hammond said he suspects the eagle may have crashed into electric power lines or barbed wire because of congenital blindness in one eye.

Two unidentified motorists found the eagle staggering down Loch Haven Road, near the South River, about 7:30 a.m.

They captured it in a crab net and turned it over to Anne Arundel County police, who delivered it to the Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary, a nonprofit wildlife group based in Bowie.

The eagle -- whose wounds were badly infested with maggots -- was sent to the Falls Road Animal Hospital because it needed more medical attention than the sanctuary could provide.

"It's sad. These animals are emissaries of our lakes and estuaries," said Mr. Hammond.

"As we encroach on those areas, we are seeing more of these injuries."

Mr. Hammond said the three greatest threats to the eagle are shock, burrowing maggots that eat healthy tissue and the toxic medicine used to kill the maggots.

Sanctuary officials said they rescue 10,000 animals a year, including two or three eagles.

The bald eagle was listed as an endangered species 30 years ago, but it has been making a comeback.

Ken D'Loughy, regional wildlife manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said that 152 nesting pairs were identified statewide last year, hatching 185 eaglets.

Most of the birds in this area are concentrated along the undeveloped portions of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

But, Mr. D'Loughy said, five active nests have been identified in more heavily developed Anne Arundel County, one in Montgomery County and one in Howard County.

"The major problem is the development of shoreline they need for nesting and feeding," said Andy Moser, who is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Annapolis.

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