Euthanized bald eagle in Yukon to be tested for avian flu

·2 min read
A bald eagle in Whitehorse who had blood around its eyes, was sneezing and appeared listless, was assessed by the government's animal health unit and then euthanized. It will be tested for avian flu. (Submitted by Justin Lemphers - image credit)
A bald eagle in Whitehorse who had blood around its eyes, was sneezing and appeared listless, was assessed by the government's animal health unit and then euthanized. It will be tested for avian flu. (Submitted by Justin Lemphers - image credit)

A bald eagle who was euthanized over the weekend in the Yukon will be tested for avian flu.

In an email to CBC News Wednesday, a Yukon Department of Environment spokesperson confirmed the bird will be tested but didn't said when it would know the result.

The bald eagle was sitting, listless, in a residential neighbourhood when Whitehorse resident Justin Lemphers came across it while out for a walk.

He said there was some blood around the bird's eyes but no sign of attack or injury from other wildlife or people.

"[There were] no broken feathers, nothing that would indicate it had been hit or injured in any way," said Lemphers.

He added the bird had no energy.

"It was just so terrible to come across the poor thing and see it suffer," he said, adding the bird was dying in front of him.

Submitted by Justin Lemphers
Submitted by Justin Lemphers

Earlier that day, the Yukon government announced that two wild birds in the territory had tested positive for the avian flu. The virus causes severe illness and a high death rate in birds.

It was the first two confirmed cases of avian flu in the territory since outbreaks were declared in several provinces since late 2021.

Kristenn Magnusson, Yukon's acting program veterinarian, said symptoms in birds can include a lack of energy and swelling around the neck or eyes, and decreased egg production for chickens.

"From what I read about avian flu, [the eagle's] symptoms looked very consistent with the reading I did," said Lemphers. "The blood all over the head, the blindness in the eyes. One eye looked ruptured. It was weeping from both eyes and sneezing."

He called the Department of Environment and said a conservation officer showed up about 15 minutes later.

In its email to CBC News, the department said that after the eagle was assessed with the animal health unit, it was euthanized and will be tested for avian flu.

The Yukon government is asking people to report any sightings of sick or dead birds by calling its TIPP line at 1-800-661-0525.

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