A team of wildlife rescuers failed to save a bald eagle who succumbed to what one licensed rehabilitation specialist called a "horrible excruciating death."
Two men found the eagle shivering in a river in Waverly, Iowa. They brought the eagle to Avenue of the Saints Animal Hospital, where the veterinarians began to treat him for lead poisoning after tests showed lethal amounts in his system, according to KWWL (Waverly). It is believed the lead came from bullet fragments or fish tackle.
Rescuers assisted him through the lead-induced seizures and, for a while, they expected him to heal. Unfortunately, the lead had already done too much damage and, on Wednesday night, River lost his life.
Wildlife rehabilitators in Waverly are hoping to use the eagle's death to educate the public about the dangers of lead poisoning. In some states, like California, lead bullets have already been banned in many circumstances.