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Sick bald eagle found at Reeder Reservoir dies at Wildlife Images

GRANTS PASS — The ill bald eagle found outside Ashland suffering from suspected lead poisoning last week has died at Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center in Josephine County.

Wildlife Images first reported the death on its Twitter account Thursday morning. The exact date and time of the death weren't immediately available. Dave Siddon, Wildlife Images executive director, said the death came after several touch-and-go days.

"One day it looked like he was kind of pulling out of it; the next day he'd look like he was kind of going the other way," Siddon said. "It was just a really tough thing to judge."

Ashland Water Treatment Plant supervisor Greg Hunter found Kringle Dec. 9 on the Reeder Reservoir shore in Ashland. The bird's head was down and he couldn't fly. Siddon said these are signs of possible lead poisoning, but that other afflictions such as West Nile Virus can have the same result.

"I don't want to be premature and say (lead poisoning) is what killed him, but it certainly wasn't making him any healthier," Siddon said. "That may have been the only factor, but we don't know yet."

Kringle also had swelling around his face. He was taken to Wildlife Images after a consultation with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. It was there he received his festive name.

Siddon said Kringle received a host of treatments, including anti-fungal medication, antibiotics and steroids. Treatment for lead poisoning was not included in Kringle's regimen, however, as animals receiving such a treatment have to be in more stable condition than the eagle was.

"You're darned if you do and darned if you don't in situations like that," Siddon said.

A full necropsy is next. The series of pathology tests will give biologists a better idea of Kringle's afflictions. Results could take weeks, as some samples have to be sent out of state.

"You've got to make sure you go through the proper diagnostic workup," Siddon said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.