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Bay View bald eagle presumably had Avian flu, test results show

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Posted at 12:32 PM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 23:21:14-04

MILWAUKEE — The Bay View bald eagle that died last week presumably tested positive for the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), or the bird flu, the Wisconsin Humane Society announced Friday.

Last Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the rehab center responded to a call about a bald eagle in distress and unable to fly in Bay View.

The two organizations were able to safely contain the eagle and bring it back to the Wisconsin Humane Society, where it was placed in quarantine.

They tested the eagle for the bird flu and were waiting for results when they euthanized the eagle due to its critical condition.

Now, a week later, the test results are in and show a presumed positive for the bird flu. The Wisconsin Humane Society said a second test has been ordered to determine the strain of the flu, but those results won't be in for several days.

In a Facebook post, the humane society said the eagle's illness can't be "confirmed positive" until those results are in.

Neighbors who lived near the eagle are heartbroken.

"It was really, very sad," said Tanner Kilander. "It's hard not to get attached."

This spring, two bald eagles built a nest in the tree across the street from her.

"I had noticed actually just before she was down on the ground, maybe an hour or so before, she was in the tree but her neck was all cranked over," Kilander said.

Neighbors worried the eagle's mate might fall ill as well. Kilander says she hasn't seen him since Tuesday, and last she saw, he didn't look sick.

"He stuck around, he was very sad, he's very lonely," Kilander said. "He didn't go back to the nest. He sat in the next tree over and waited for her."

The Wisconsin Humane Society says it is taking extra care to make sure their facility is clean and safe to avoid any possible spread to other bird patients.

"Once we became aware Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was in our area, we changed our admissions process," said Crystal Sharlow-Schaefer, the Wisconsin Humane Society's Wildlife Director. "We are not a walk-in clinic right now. We are appointment-based only. We want everyone to call us first. We are having clients text us images of any bird they've found, so this allows us to identify it down to species. We're also asking for videos so we can at least do more of a visual assessment."

The humane society is looking for further information on the eagle's mate, as the bird flu is highly contagious.

"The DNR is asking the public to contact them with reports of waterfowl, waterbirds, raptors (especially Bald Eagles) and avian scavengers such as crows, ravens and gulls showing tremors, circling movement, or holding their heads in an unusual position. These symptoms may be a sign of HPAI," the humane society said in its Facebook post.

If you see this, contact the DNR Wildlife Hotline at 608-26-0866 or DNRWildlifeSwitchboard@wi.gov.

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