Veterinarians at a local animal hospital have been working for more than a week to nurse a baby bald eagle back to health after it was shot in Johnston.
The female eagle was found injured in the Central Landfill on Tuesday, Feb. 12 with what veterinarians at Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island in Saunderstown (where the bird is being treated) first thought was lead poisoning. After treating the bird with expensive medications that would remove the lead from the bird's body and seeing little results, WRARI staff brought it to Ocean State Veterinary Specialists for an x-ray, which they donated, almost a week after the bird was brought in.
That's when they discovered that the bird had actually been shot in the head. One pellet was lodged in the eagle's brain – smack dab in its right frontal lobe.
According to Dr. Chi Chan of WRARI, one of the veterinarians treating the bird, there is no hope of removing the bullet.
"We aren't kidding anybody," said Dr. Chan. "We know we're fighting a losing battle, but we're not giving up yet."
The bullet has caused the bird's brain to swell, though she is still able to stand up and move around a bit. Unfortunately, she is not recognizing any food that WRARI staff members try to put before her – which could be problematic for the bird's survival.
According to Dr. Chan, the eagle needs to be able to eat on her own and be self sufficient to be taken in by any zoo or eco-rehabilitation center.
"There's no chance of her returning to the wild after this," said Dr. Chan.
Currently, WRARI are working to reduce the inflammation of the bird's brain and have been administering a feeding tube three times a day. If the bird is unable to eat on its own, Dr. Chan says the bird would most likely be euthanized.