Despite some guarded optimism about his potential for recovery, Animal Care Alliance staff euthanized Freedom the bald eagle last week. 

WWN previously wrote about Economy-area residents helping ACA staff rescue the injured Freedom on June 19. He had been receiving care at the westside Richmond clinic, 1353 Abington Pike, since then. 

Joyce Luckett, ACA clinic manager, said blood tests conducted at Michigan State University showed that Freedom had more than four times the level of lead that is deemed to be toxic.

“We felt that letting Freedom go was the kindest thing to do for him. He was never going to be able to fly again, which he wanted desperately to do! He didn’t feel like a normal bald eagle, and he was frightened and unhappy in his enclosure,” she said.

Freedom’s blood work cost $210 and his food was between $10 to $15 per day. An online fundraiser raised $390 for his care. 

Studies suggest that nearly half of all eagles across 38 states are suffering from dangerous levels of lead in their systems, Luckett said. 

According to the American Eagle Foundation, the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle can have unintentional consequences for wildlife. Lead enters the ecosystem when gut piles or carcasses are abandoned, when quarry escapes after being shot, or when fish break the line and swim off with tackle. 

The organization says a lead fragment the size of a grain of rice is lethal to eagles, and because lead accumulates in the system over time, no amount of lead exposure is safe. 

The veterinary clinic’s staff had several sad outcomes on July 18. In addition to the loss of Freedom, they also had to put down a paralyzed great horned owl, a bleeding red-tailed hawk, a kitten dying of flea anemia, a rabbit that had been bitten by a dog, and a Canada goose that had been hit on Indiana 1 and delivered by a trucker who discovered the bird in the roadway. 

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A version of this article appeared in the July 26 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.