Wed May 16, 2012
Eagle poisoning casts light on humane society procedures
Now that the cause is known for the worst case of bald eagle poisoning in American history, the woman who saved the birds is asking for more diligence and better funding for local humane societies.
When wildlife rehabilitator Marge Gibson was called to the Vilas County landfill a little over a year ago, she couldn't believe her eyes, "It was really surreal. This was the largest eagle poisoning, mass poisoning in the country."
Seven of the majestic birds lay on the ground, appearing to be dead. When Gibson got them back to her Raptor Education Group center in Antigo, she detected faint signs of life, "Some of them were breathing, although very slightly. At that point in time, it became a real rush, adrenalin rush to save them and to keep them breathing."
Gibson and her team worked around the clock, saving all seven of the birds. Now, a year later, federal authorities have released the cause of the poisoning: the eagles were feeding on the carcasses of cats euthanized at the Humane Society of Vilas County and improperly disposed of at the landfill, "Well I think it's a real wake up call to everyone from veterinarians, humane societies obviously, and even the general public."
Marge Gibson says euthanized animals should be cremated to protect wildlife, and she says that's a struggle for some of the smaller, rural humane societies. Gibson say they need better funding, "When you have humane societies in a small town that are probably poorly funded or at least moderately funded they really have low resources to do things like cremate their animals."
The director of the Vilas County Humane Society has to perform 12 hours of community service teaching the proper disposal of euthanized animals.