BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A bald eagle found in a Town of Evans backyard has died after the Erie County SPCA says it did everything in its power to save him.
The majestic bird was found Aug. 9 by several individuals who then contacted the SPCA.
The SPCA Animal Rescue team headed out to retrieve the bird, who was then rushed back to the SPCA's on-site infirmary.
The bird received initial emergency treatments. Officials say they tried to make the eagle feel as comfortable as possible while he was receiving treatments.
The bird's condition did not look good, however. He couldn't lift his head, he was malnourished, dehydrated and he suffered from a severe eye injury.
Officials from the SPCA say they didn't think he would make it through the night.
The bird did survive to the following day and an SPCA veterinarian staff didn't waste any time in starting to test and treat him.
They tested the eagle for lead and West Nile Virus as well as various infections. The eagle was brought to a local vet eye specialist for an evaluation. SPCA officials also said they worked with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the organization that decides what is best for federally-protected birds such as the Bald Eagles.
After the evaluations, experts found the eagle would be permanently blind. Due to the bird's blindness, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services decided he was not able to be released or placed in a sanctuary. They recommended euthanasia.
In addition, the bird tested positive for aspergillosis, a severe respiratory disease.
The SPCA's wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Karen Moran, did not feel comfortable with euthanasia at that point and worked long and hard to save the eagle.
Dr. Moran contacted the Fish and Wildlife Services with what she thought would be an effective alternative plan to keep the bird alive. The SPCA did not specify this plan.
They did say, however, late last week the eagle stopped responding to its treatments for aspergillosis. His symptoms worsened and included weight loss and growing continually weaker.
"Chronic aspergillosis is much more common [than acute aspergillosis], and unfortunately, much more deadly due to its insidious nature," said Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department veterinarians Drs. Foster & Smith.
They explained the disease causes white nodules to appear and erode through tissue. It also causes a large number of spores to enter the bloodstream. The spores then travel throughout the body, infecting multiple organs including kidneys, skin, muscle, gastrointestinal tract, liver, eyes, and brain.
It was a very difficult decision for the SPCA staff to make, but they decided the eagle's disease could not be stopped and it would be best to end the majestic bird's suffering.
"The level of care and concern expressed for this lovely bird shows us all over again why we at the SPCA are so proud to serve a community as great as Erie County," the SPCA said in a news release. "