By Amanda Christman / Published: January 28, 2017
A Hazleton compounding pharmacy had a very special and very ill feathered customer to tend to Wednesday.
An American bald eagle believed to have been found in the area of Frances Slocum State Park in Kingston Township appeared to be suffering from metal poisoning. It needed specialized care.
Metal shown in an X-ray of the bird confirmed suspicions on what was causing the national bird to get sick.
It was around 3 p.m. when Hazle Compounding/Hazle Drugs, North Wyoming Street, received a phone call from the Carbon County Environmental Education Center, Summit Hill, about the eagle.
The business was told it needed specially designed medication, Bill Spear, owner/president of Hazle Compounding, said, and after a consultation between a wildlife officer, the business and a veterinarian, they came up with a formula to help the bird.
Employees at Hazle Compounding stopped what they were doing as the majestic bird’s condition and its symbolism in the country touched a soft spot in their hearts, Spear said.
The business formulated a chelating agent which binds metal in the body so it can be safety excreted.
Spear said they compounded the medicine, starting from scratch with a powder ingredient and creating it in a concentrated liquid form so it could be easily administered with an oral medicine syringe without causing the eagle, which appeared weak and lethargic, more distress.
The wildlife officer arrived at Hazle Compounding with the eagle in her vehicle so the medicine could be administered right away, he said. Spear said it’s unclear how the bird ingested the metal but that it could have been leaching out into the eagle’s body for some time, causing toxicity.
The bird is currently in the care of the Carbon County environmental center, which plans to release an updated condition on the eagle to the public Monday.
Spear and his employees at Hazle Compounding are eager to see an update on the eagle’s condition, too.
“We were glad to help and hopefully the eagle will pull through,” he said.
Spear said the business compounds medicine for dogs and cats every day. They’ve created medicine for hedgehogs, rats, snakes, squirrels, penguins and even a wallaby as they are one of a only few compounding pharmacies still left in the country and the oldest compounding pharmacy in the United States able to cater to specialized medicinal needs of people and animals.
According to audubon.org, eagles are powerful predators but often feed on carrion (the decaying flesh of dead animals). They also steal food from other smaller birds. Eagles tend to live near water where they have easy access to fish.
Their population suffered a decline during the 20th century, but according the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in August 2007 because their populations recovered sufficiently due to conservation efforts.
The bald eagle was chosen in the late 1700s as the national bird and eventually the national emblem — a symbol of strength and freedom.