A bald eagle that was rescued after being sickened by a blood-thinning rat poison at a Massachusetts cemetery has died, the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable said Wednesday.
The female bird, named MK, had recently been seen nesting with a male bald eagle at an Arlington cemetery, but some people noticed she was drooping her head and spending a lot of time on the ground over the last several days instead of in the trees.
A group of wildlife rescuers was able to capture MK on Monday after three unsuccessful rescue attempts on Sunday.
“We have some very sad news to share. Last night MK succumbed to her illness. After a valiant fight her system was simply no longer able to keep up,” the Cape Wildlife Center said.
Despite their best efforts to save the bird, MK died Tuesday night after apparently suffering an internal hemorrhage.
“Our veterinary team was by her side when it happened and was able to quickly clear her airway and intubate her, provide emergency drugs and fluids as her heart rate slowed, and eventually worked to do compressions to revive her. Sadly it was not enough to bring her back. She was gone in a matter of minutes,” the Cape Wildlife Center posted.
MK’s symptoms indicate that she likely ingested one or more rodents that had consumed an anticoagulant rodenticide, which prevents blood from clotting and causes uncontrollable bleeding.
“When they have this poison in their body, very minor injuries can cause them to bleed severely,” said Dr. Priya Patel, medical director of New England Wildlife Centers.
The Cape Wildlife Center said MK was severely anemic upon admission, as her red blood cell count was less than one-third of what a healthy bird should be.
In a statement shared with NewsCenter 5, state Rep. Jim Hawkins said he and state Sen. Paul Feeney have re-filed their bill, “An Act relative to pesticides,” which will provide the information needed to assess usage amounts and locations of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides.
Hawkins stated the use of SGARs is creating imbalances in ecosystems and causing devastation in wildlife species such as bald eagles, owls, foxes, hawks and bobcats.
“When you have rodent control done, there are a lot of options and a lot of really good (ones), whether they be holistic, deterrent or other chemicals that don’t bioaccumulate,” said Zak Mertz, chief executive officer of New England Wildlife Centers.
The Cape Wildlife Center said MK was hatched in Waltham back in 2016. She and her mate “KZ” attracted scores of fans as they have frequented the Mystic River Watershed. The pair was considered a true ecological success story in Massachusetts and a testament to how far the Mystic River and its habitats have come over the past few decades, according to the wildlife center.
Arlington resident Laura Kiesel, a wildlife biologist and environmental advocate, said MK’s first offspring, C25, was poisoned and died in July 2021.
Bald eagles are still designated as species of special concern in Massachusetts
“They actually were just demoted in 2021 from ‘threatened’ to ‘species of special concern,’ and almost immediately after that, several of them died from these rodenticides and then there’s this one,” Kiesel said.