LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Two different bald eagles are on the mend after recently being rescued by Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens.
Trinity County Game Warden Shawn Smith found a seriously ill bald eagle on the side of a dirt road in Houston County on Jan. 23, and the bird was taken to the Friends of Texas Wildlife intake center in Magnolia.
"We first thought it was hit by a car, but then when I got there, I noticed it had no signs of injury but looked really bad," Smith said. "We took it to a vet, and they got it to the group."
Since then, the people with the Friends of Texas Wildlife have been nursing the bald eagle back to health, and the transformation has been stunning.
A post on the non-profit organization's Facebook page stated that the male bald eagle's condition was grave when he was brought in to their intake center.
"He came into our care late in the evening on January 23 and was barely alive, suffering from lead poisoning," the Facebook post stated. "He was too weak to even stand and could not keep any food down."
The Facebook post stated that volunteers with Friends of Texas Wildlife provided the bald eagle with "around-the-clock care, fluid therapy, and tube feeding," and as a result, he started to gain a little of his strength back.
According to the Facebook post, volunteers have also started chelation therapy on the bird to help remove the lead from his system.
"The lead could have come from a sinker found in a fish or from lead in a deer that got away injured after being shot," Smith said. "We are really not sure yet."
"Even with therapy, his survival is uncertain," the Facebook post stated. "For the last three days, he has been able to stand and is now keeping down solid food. His care will be long-term and expensive."
Nikki Richards said it could take up to eight weeks to get the lead out of the bird. Richards said while the bird is still in critical condition, it is expected to make a full recovery.
According to the mission statement on the Friends of Texas Wildlife, the organization "supports the rehabilitation of native Texas wildlife and promotion of co-existence of wildlife and humans through education."
"We are not funded or paid to assist the many animals we care for and depend on fund raising and donations," the Facebook post stated. "Please donate if you can."
Just weeks before the bald eagle was found in Crockett, Angelina County Game Warden James Barge rescued a bald eagle after it was hit by a vehicle. Bald eagles were taken off the endangered species list in 2007, and more are being seen around Lake Sam Rayburn. Barge said more eagles in the area mean more incidents are likely to happen.
"We have really good habitat for those birds around here," Barge said. "Their numbers are increasing. We are having more interaction with different man-made things like vehicles and power lines that are causing injuries to the birds."
Barge was able to help the eagle in time. He placed the eagle in a cooler and took it to a local vet before it was transported to a rehab facility in San Antonio. Barge said if people come in contact with a bald eagle that is injured or in distress, to please call a wildlife official.
"These birds are important," Barge said. "They're our nation's bird and we want to try to make sure we can help all of them that we can help. but by the same token, you don't want to be the one that gets caught with one of them. Federal fines are more expensive then state fines most of the time."
People who would like to donate to help cover the cost of caring for the bald eagle should click this link. You can also visit their Facebook page here. If someone has wildlife that needs the organization's help, they can call (281) 259-0039.