New Brunswick

Bald eagle spent days 'fighting to survive' after being shot in northern N.B.

The Atlantic Wildlife Institute had a bald eagle come in from the northern part of the province and they realized it had been shot.

Eagle euthanized by Atlantic Wildlife Institute because injuries untreatable

The bald eagle had bullet fragments in its left shoulder and the shoulder was shattered. Pam Novak said this type of injury cannot be repaired because it destroys the joint in the upper part of the wing. (Submitted by Atlantic Wildlife Institute)

Officials at the Atlantic Wildlife Institute had to euthanize an immature bald eagle brought in from the northern part of the province after they realized it had been shot.

The Institute's Pam Novak said the eagle was seen on the ground for a few days before rangers were able to pick it up and bring it in.

She said first they tested the eagle for lead poisoning, seeing that it was depressed and lethargic. Eagles are scavengers and Novak said it was possible the bird could have ingested lead shot from an animal that had been hit by a hunter.

Novak said there was some optimism after the eagle tested negative for lead, because it could have meant that the bird had a treatable injury. 

Two nurses are viewing an x-ray.
Institute staff viewed the bald eagle's x-ray. Novak said as soon as she saw the x-rays on the screen, she knew it was a gunshot injury. (Submitted by Atlantic Wildlife Institute)

But Novak said as soon as she saw x-rays on the screen, she knew the damage was serious.

"Your heart just kind of sinks in a moment like that where you realize this is a bird that's fighting to survive … and then you get to that point where you know you can do nothing for him except relieve him of his agony," said Novak.

"They're tough calls to make [but] they're necessary calls to make."

The bald eagle had bullet fragments in its left shoulder and the shoulder was shattered.

Novak said the joint in the upper part of the wing was destroyed and couldn't be repaired. 

Taking responsibility 

Novak said this isn't something they see every day. The Atlantic Wildlife Institute is hoping to make people aware that shooting any raptor is illegal.

She said the institute called the regional biologists for the area to see if any action can be taken on their part.

Pam Novak said x-rays revealed the bald eagle had bullet fragments in its left shoulder. (Submitted by Atlantic Wildlife Institute)

She urges people to take responsibility for their actions.

She referenced an incident from a few years back where someone was out hunting and accidentally shot a hawk. They immediately brought it to the institute and immediate intervention saved the bird's life.

"At least they took responsibility, you know, for their action and sought that bird immediate help."

Novak said they have seen a few other eagles in past years that have been shot. She said the province does investigate these incidents. 

She said it's crucial for people to react quickly if they see someone shooting a protected animal, like a raptor. 

"It's a sad story, but it needs to be known that these kinds of activities do take place out there and [for] people to always just be aware of them."


Hannah Rudderham is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick. She grew up in Cape Breton, N.S., and moved to Fredericton in 2018. You can send story tips to

With files from Shift


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