ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Veterinarians at a St. Augustine clinic treated a bald eagle found shot in Flagler County a week ago and brought it back from near death, only to be disappointed at the outcome Wednesday.
A man working in a rural area of Flagler County spotted the injured bald eagle a week ago, and it was brought to the St. John Veterinary Clinic for treatment by a Fish and Wildlife officer.
Veterinarians showed First Coast News the bald eagle's wounds Wednesday morning, and though lethargic, it looked as if he was recovering well.
When the eagle arrived at the clinic after being shot, it was weak, dehydrated, and not alert due to a loss of blood.
" The bird suffered a pretty good wound to the chest area," said Dr. Kathleen Deckard. "It is looking a little bit better. There are wounds to the chest, and to the leg. Feathers are missing and there is some crusting there."
X-rays showed 15 lead pellets inside the bird, and Dr. Kathleen Deckard fears the bird has lead toxicity which is causing weakness and signs of depression.
"You can tell the bird is closing its eyes periodically and holding its head down, and he should be flapping his wings tremendously, they have very big power in their wings, this bird is definitely very lethargic and not showing any signs of trying to get away from me," said Deckard.
About four hours after First Coast News shot video of the bald eagle, veterinarians at the clinic said the bald eagle died. Dr. Mark Gendzier, owner of the clinic, said they did not expect this turn of events, but birds often don't show how truly sick they are.
"We do not know when the bird had the injury and there were signs of severe infection to the wounds. He could have been injured several days before he came to our clinic," said Gendzier.
"It is just a very heinous, senseless crime," said Florida Fish and Wildlife officer Lee Lawshe.
Lawshe says a $1000 reward is being offered to help solve this case.
"We are just looking for information, it's an ongoing investigation, we are trying to find out who did it and why this was done."
Before today's untimely death, veterinarians at the clinic had hoped to turn the bald eagle over to the Audobon Bird of Prey Center in Maitland, Florida for a lengthy rehabilitation, with hopes of the bald eagle being released into the wild in the coming weeks or months.
But that won't be happening as the bald eagle they named Harold wasn't able to be saved from the shooting.
First Coast News