News Service


Mary Ann Nieves, Veterinary Medicine, (515) 294-4900
Phyllis Peters, Veterinary Medicine, (515) 294-4602
Steve Jones, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- The injured bald eagle that crashed through a car windshield in Des Moines has been euthanized.

The bird was euthanized April 16 because its severely injured wing prevented its release back into the wild. The 12 1/2-pound eagle had been at Iowa State University's Wildlife Care Clinic at the College of Veterinary Medicine since early December.

The eagle made headlines after it survived a shotgun blast and a crash landing through a car windshield. ISU veterinary surgeons twice operated on the bird's shattered left wing. The initial surgery lasted five hours. The damage, however, was too severe.

"The injuries were such that the eagle could not fly," said Dr. Mary Ann Nieves, associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences. "The odds were against the bird from the beginning."

Nieves said the aim of eagle rehabilitation is to release the bird back into the wild. If that is not possible, the eagle is humanely euthanized. She added that few places can adequately care for injured eagles.

"The goal is not to keep crippled eagles," Nieves explained.

When the eagle arrived at the clinic in December, it was given a "guarded to grave" prognosis for a return to flight.

"Many centers would have euthanized this eagle immediately," Nieves said. "If we believe we have a reasonable chance of returning an animal to the wild, we will attempt to treat it."

Nieves said ISU surgeons and staff gain important experience working with cases like the bald eagle.

"We learn what is medically possible and what is not possible," Nieves said. "That information helps us determine how to handle future cases."

The cost of the eagle's medical care was about $1,300, according to Nieves. The figure does not include food. The Ames Save U More and Hy-Vee food stores, the Izaak Walton League of Ames and the state's Department of Natural Resources donated fish to feed the eagle.

Much of the funding for the ISU Wildlife Care Clinic comes from private donations.


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