WAVY-TV reported Tuesday that three dead eagles and two living eagles were found in Northampton County on Saturday (March 9). The two living eagles were kept overnight, and one died, according to Ruth Boettcher with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).
The Wildlife Center of Virginia says it is treating the immature eagle, which is likely a three-year-old male. Veterinarians say after an examination of the eagle, found an elevated level of lead in its blood and multiple metal fragments in the eagle's digestive tract.
According to the wildlife center, since treatment began, the eagle's condition has improved. Treatment has included a tube-feeding therapy to help the metal fragments move more quickly through the eagle's digestive tract, preventing further leaching of the lead.
Officials are unsure what caused the eagles to die but Boettcher says bald eagles commonly feed on dead things, including carcasses from an open pit where local hunters place remains after hunting. The eagles may have fed on the carcasses that contained bullets.
Because of its rich food resources and favorable environmental conditions, Virginia's Chesapeake Bay area is host to a large influx bald eagles.
The bald eagle has been U.S. national symbol since 1782, when Congress adopted the design for the Great Seal of the United States. Ranging from Alaska to the northern border of Mexico, and from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast, the bald eagle is the only kind of eagle found exclusively on the North American continent.