The Norman Transcript

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March 20, 2013

National emblem dies at rescue center

NORMAN — An American bald eagle apparently died from pesticide poisoning earlier this month, despite efforts of rescue workers to save it.

Local veterinarian Joe Carter said the poisoning of our national emblem does not bode well for the safety of Oklahoma residents. Eagles live near water sources and feed on fish.

The bald eagle was an adult female who was found Feb. 27 and brought to the WildCare Foundation in Noble where Carter helped treat her until she died March 3.

Lab tests came back positive for brodifacoum — a highly lethal poison that has become one of the world’s most widely used pesticides.

“We were suspicious because on the autopsy, we saw some internal hemorrhaging, and we sent some samples to the lab. They came back positive,” Carter said. “It’s a common pesticide. It’s a very toxic pesticide.

“It worries me from two aspects. It worries me about what’s happening to our wildlife, but it worries me from a public health and safety aspect. It’s something the state needs to look at.”

The eagle was found in Pontotoc County, said Lt. Nathan Erdman, of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“It’s getting it (the poison) from its environment somehow,” Carter said. “That’s the great question. Sometimes animals are sentinels for us humans. If they’re acquiring poisons, are we acquiring these poisons somehow?”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the female eagle’s death.

“It’s an open investigation and we can’t make any comments,” said Matt Bryant, special agent of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We’re working with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation on this.”

Brodifacoum is typically used as rat poison but also is used to control larger pests such as possums. Carter said the poison has a long half-life in the body, which requires prolonged treatment for human and pet poisoning.

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