Farmer fined for poisoning eagles

Woman left two euthanized horse carcasses unburied where birds found them

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A Winlock property owner was recently fined $1,500 for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act after inadvertently poisoning seven bald eagles that fed on two euthanized horse carcasses left on the property in March.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service closed its investigation this fall and sent the findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which set the $1,500 fine.

Poisoning a bald eagle, even inadvertently, is a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act with maximum penalties up to one year in prison and $200,000 in fines, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In March, the property owner, Debra Dwelly, who runs a horse rescue farm, told The Daily News she had intended to bury the two horses but a backhoe had broken down.

Dwelly said she was “mortified” by the development and intended to work with wildlife officials.

Gary Young, special agent in charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Region, said that, considering the circumstances, the case had a positive ending since all seven birds were released back into the wild.

“We were notified in a timely manner, had the resources and (the eagles) were all saved,” Young said. “Normally, we don’t hear about things until the birds are dead.”

Six of the eagles — five juveniles and one adult — were transported to West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island, where they made a full recovery.

The other juvenile bird was taken to the Audubon Society of Portland.

Mike Pratt, West Sound Wildlife Shelter director, said the eagles came in vomiting with convulsions. Some were unconscious due to consuming the potent drug Euthasol, which had been used to euthanize the two horses.

More than 75 people gathered in March to witness as the six eagles treated at the Bainbridge shelter returned to the wild. Those on hand, including members of the Cowlitz and Hopi Indian tribes, said the event was an uplifting experience.