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Wildlife Center: Littering Hurting Virginia's Bald Eagles

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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) -

Caretakers at the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV) are growing more concerned about the rising number or injured bald eagles coming to the clinic.

So far this year, veterinarians have treated and are rehabilitating 26 bald eagles at WCV, based in Waynesboro. Some of the eagles in their care can never be free again.

Veterinarians at the center say littering is the number one danger to our bald eagle populations.

"We had an eagle admitted that had all sorts of trash in this patient’s stomach, including a balloon, pieces of plastic, a thumbtack," said Kelli Knight with veterinary services.

"The amount of debris we took from that bird’s intestinal track was just astonishing, and it had obviously killed the bird," WCV President Ed Clark said.

The center is currently helping six eaglets and two adults affected by human behavior.

"Injured, poisoned, orphaned, falling out of nests, whatever. Each of them has a separate story, and each of those stories is obviously sad or they wouldn't be here," said Clark.

Staff says there are more bald eagles in central Virginia because people in coastal environments have pushed them out.

“The birds are adjusting to that by moving further upstream along the rivers, moving in to places like the Shenandoah Valley, the upper Piedmont, and that's not typically very good eagle habitat," Clark said. He then added, “so we're having to watch the birds adapt and that adaptation is not going well in all cases but the population continues to grow."

All six of the eaglets are on track to be released back into the wild by the end of this summer.