Hikers finding more injured bald eagles around Utah

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FARMINGTON — Two more bald eagles were found this week on the verge of death from a mysterious illness, bringing the total of sick eagles in Utah to nearly two dozen.

At the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, bald eagles are arriving faster than ever before. Since Dec. 1, the facility has received nine birds, though only four are still alive.

Across Utah, 21 bald eagles have been found with the mysterious illness this month, according to the rehab center. And of those 21, 16 have died.

One of the eagles was found in Farmington Creek, suffering from the same symptoms as 16 other eagles that died. Another one, less than a year old, was found in the West Point area on Christmas night.

"They are being brought in with leg weakness, paralysis, tremors, weakness in the wings, seizures," said DaLyn Erickson-Marthaler of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah.

It's unknown what is hurting the iconic birds, but Erickson-Marthaler said they're being treated for West Nile-like symptoms.

The first set of labs on the first recovered birds have come back, but Erickson-Marthaler said they won't have answers until there is more lab work for comparison.

"We don't know how all the pieces of the puzzle come together yet so this could be the end of it or this could be the tip of the iceberg," Erickson-Marthaler said. "We don't know."

Taylor Schulte and his father-in-law were hiking in Bountiful when they came across another sick eagle.

They carefully took the eagle home, keeping it calm while waiting for wildlife officials. The bird is now improving at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, but it's still unknown whether it will ever get strong enough to return to the wild.

"The bald eagle, it's just what America stands for," Schulte said. "So to see one hurt, injured, that's not that's not what you want to see."

The rehabilitation facility expects more bald eagles suffering from this mysterious illness will be found. They said the best thing to do when you come across a sick bald eagle is to leave it alone and call the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources or the rehab facility so their experts can handle the situation.


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