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Sick bald eagle found near Ashland dies

GRANTS PASS — The bald eagle found outside Ashland suffering from suspected lead poisoning last week has died.

The eagle, named Kringle after the holiday season, died sometime before Thursday morning at Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center in Merlin, where it was being treated.

Executive Director Dave Siddon said Kringle's 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 cause similar symptoms.

"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 Hunter consulted with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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 it requires a much more stable condition than the eagle was in.

"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.

Kringle came to Wildlife Images weak and with a drooping head. Photo courtesy Wildlife Images