A severely injured and ill bald eagle was rescued from the streets of Washington, D.C., Saturday. It seemed like a troubling omen so close to the Fourth of July.
The national bird couldn’t fly, was lethargic and its breathing was labored when the Humane Rescue Alliance found it in the southeast quadrant of the District of Columbia after a tip, according to a Facebook post.
The bird was transported to the City Wildlife treatment center, where its condition Sunday afternoon was listed as stable but its prognosis as “guarded.”
It wasn’t clear what caused the eagle’s troubles. Some Facebook commenters feared it may have been injured by fireworks. One suggested possible lead poisoning from contaminated fish in the polluted Potomac or other nearby rivers.
Eagles are susceptible to lead in the environment, particularly to lead bullets that contaminate animals shot by hunters and then consumed by the great birds. Lead poisoning is often fatal and causes paralysis, brain damage and blindness in affected animals. Up to 15 percent of eagles die in their first year from lead poisoning. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in May repealed a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directive from the Obama administration that banned lead ammunition in federal wildlife refuges and parks.