Wildlife officers were baffled two years ago when a bald eagle was found poisoned and dying at a Florida landfill.
Tests revealed the bird, which is protected under federal law, had been poisoned with pentobarbital, a drug commonly used by veterinarians to euthanize animals.
Two more bald eagles were found near death Feb. 2 at the Baseline Landfill in Marion County, where animal welfare officers said the birds are eating dead animals, reported the Ocala Post.
The Animis Foundation, a nonprofit animal rescue sanctuary, believes the Marion County Animal Shelter, which is located next to the landfill, has been dumping euthanized animals instead of cremating them – and the eagles are ingesting the poison.
Residents are concerned the barbiturates are passing into the water supply from the decaying animals.
Animis officials said they notified the Audubon Society after the first bald eagle turned up poisoned, and they assumed the wildlife group would test all eagles in the area and report findings to the Florida Wildlife Service.
But a spokeswoman for the organization said no birds had been tested until the recent cases.
One of the birds died, but the other will be taken to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey after its condition stabilizes.
County officials said tests had been ordered for the landfill.
The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission turned over its handling of the investigation Thursday, when it first learned over the situation, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since the bald eagle is federally protected.
The newspaper reported that Marion County Animal Shelter never replied to requests for comment.
Florida law requires the remains of domestic animals to be disposed at least two feet below the surface of the ground and above the water table.