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Oak Harbor vet has to euthanize eagle hit by shotgun

Jaimie Schmitt, a veterinarian tech at Best Friends Veterinary Center, holds a young eagle that was shot with a shotgun. The bird had to be euthanized.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Jaimie Schmitt, a veterinarian tech at Best Friends Veterinary Center, holds a young eagle that was shot with a shotgun. The bird had to be euthanized.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Someone with a shotgun plugged a juvenile bald eagle on or near Whidbey Naval Air Station this week. Sadly, the bird didn’t survive.

Erica Anderson-Syring, a veterinarian at Best Friends Veterinary Center in Oak Harbor, said people who were walking on the beach at Rocky Point — a popular area on the Navy base — reported finding a sick eagle. The raptor was on the beach and didn’t move when dogs or people approached.

A couple of staff members from the clinic went out and retrieved the bird. Anderson-Syring said she X-rayed the ailing eagle and found that there was buckshot in its head and shoulder.

The veterinarians did what they could to help the eagle, but Anderson-Syring said it was obvious the bird was too injured to survive. It was blind and didn’t respond to stimulus.

The vet clinic, which is licensed to deal with wild animals, has several small sheds for keeping eagles, owls and other wild critters. The staff let the eagle stay in a shed overnight with a tasty bunny dinner, in order to see if there was any improvement.

But Friday morning, the eagle was nearly motionless and the rabbit was untouched. Anderson-Syring said she would have to euthanize the big bird. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife website, bald eagles, once listed as endangered, are still a protected species. The penalty for shooting the American symbol is a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year in jail.

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