A bald eagle that was rescued two years ago in Washington County and thought to be the oldest in Maine was euthanized Saturday afternoon.
Avian Haven, a wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom, said in a Sunday Facebook post that the eagle was found on the ground Friday afternoon with a broken left leg. An examination found the leg to be “beyond repair” and showing signs of a “progressive and likely painful” arthritis in the knee and ankle.
That Friday injury is believed to be connected to others the bird suffered before coming to the rehabilitation center.
The bird was rescued on April 7, 2017, by Maine Game Warden Joe McBrine and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officer Amanda Hardaswick after a lobsterman found the injured bird in Trescott Township, southwest of Lubec, according to the Associated Press.
At the time of its rescue, the bald eagle was suffering from a serious wing injury, lead exposure and appeared to have been in a fight with another bald eagle, the Associated Press reports.
When it was brought to the wild bird rehabilitation center, the bird had deep puncture wounds on its right leg that left it lame, and over time, the bird likely had come to rely on its good leg, Avian Haven said.
It’s possible that poor coordination as a result of age and lead exposure caused the eagle to lose its balance and fall, leading the injury on Friday, according to Avian Haven.
The raptor, which had fostered young eagles during its stay at Avian Haven, was in the final stages of the approval process to stay on as a surrogate parent at the center when she died.
“It is of some comfort to know that her final days were spent in a safe and peaceful environment, well-fed and cared for, as she deserved. In the two summers she was with us, she fostered four young eagles, and we like to think that her legacy lives on in them,” Avian Haven said.
The eagle had been banded shortly after hatching on June 21, 1983, on Grand Manan Island in Canada. At 35 years old, the bald eagle lived far beyond the average lifespan of 20 years in the wild, according to the Associated Press.
Related: A look inside the bird rehab center Avian Haven in Freedom