Injured Eagle Found on I-55 Died from Bacterial Infection

Tests show that an injured American bald eagle treated at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn died of a massive bacterial infection.

The eagle was brought to Willowbrook Sept. 29 after it was found alongside Interstate 55 at the Cass Avenue exit by an Illinois Department of Transportation road crew. The eagle died Sept. 30 after a cursory exam showed it suffered from apparent head trauma and abrasions and contusions to its wings and feet. 

A full necropsy done by the University of Illinois determined the eagle had a massive bacterial infection in its bloodstream likely the result of puncture wounds on its wings and knees. Its liver and adrenal glands were also severely infected, according to Willowbrook staff veterinarian Jen Nevis. The cause of the puncture wounds is unknown. 

Nevis speculated that the puncture wounds may have been caused by a full-body impact rather than an animal attack because the wounds were symmetrically distributed on the insides of both wings and the fronts of both knees. It’s unknown if the wounds grounded the eagle or if he sustained the injuries once on the ground, she said.

The eagle tested negative for West Nile virus, avian influenza and Newcastle disease, Nevis said. 

A check of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tag on the bird revealed it was the same eagle that had been brought to Willowbrook in February 2014 after being shot in Oak Lawn. It was treated for a broken wing and later released at Pratt’s Wayne Woods in Wayne in April 2014.

Willowbrook Wildlife Center is the only publicly funded wildlife rehabilitation facility in DuPage County and one of the few in northeastern Illinois equipped to treat native and migratory birds. The center treats more than 8,700 birds, mammals and amphibians each year.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for 100 years. More than 4 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube pages.

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Deb Humiston, Communications & Marketing
630-871-6402 |

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