Investigation continues after sick eagles found at county landfill

Department of Fish and Wildlife investigating origin of sickness

Local 6 News at 6:00p
Local 6 News at 6:00p

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – The Marion County landfill where two sick eagles were found last week is firing back on Monday, saying it's not to blame that the eagles were poisoned, giving them both life-threatening injuries.

A morning supervisor at the landfill first stumbled upon the sick eagles early in the morning.

"He found them along the grassy hill," said a worker for the county. The landfill sits atop an elevated hill, one of the highest points in Marion County.

Shortly thereafter, an employee with Marion County phoned the Animis Organization, a nonprofit sanctuary dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation & care of wildlife & domestic animals.

"It's so hard to see animals as majestic as these look so hurt and sick," said Danielle Ball, a worker at Animis. Ball says Monday was not the first time they've been called to the landfill.

"We've been called out there multiple times in the past six years," she said.

Ball and a coworker at Anibis brought the two eagles into their recovery facility and hooked them up to oxygen machines, but one of the eagles later died. Ball believes the birds are being poisoned by the drug pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals. Ball believes euthanized animals are likely being disposed of improperly and the birds, in turn, are getting sick by ingesting meat of the dead animal bodies.

"When those pets are euthanized, they have to be disposed of properly, and we assume these animals were not," Ball added.

The Marion County Landfill does allow animals to be disposed of at their facility, but there are restrictions and guidelines agencies must follow:

"Solid Waste requires residents and agencies to notify if the waste they are disposing includes deceased animals, hazardous materials, chemicals, sludge or other, in accordance with the rules or statutory requirements or permit conditions. Deceased animals brought to the landfill must be reported to staff for proper burial."

When the animals are collected at the landfill, the county then follows specific guidelines to ensure they are disposed of properly:

"Operators excavate a hole at least 3 feet or more in depth, exceeding state statute requirements for a hole to be at least 2 feet in depth."

Landfill officials said that it's not possible the proper protocol was not followed.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife were at the landfill Friday and will continue to investigate in hopes of finding the origin of the eagles' sickness.

In the meantime, the other eagle has recovered and is happy and healthy.