VICTORIA -- Despite round-the-clock care at a Vancouver Island veterinary hospital, a bald eagle has died from complications brought on by eating a toxic pig carcass.

On Sunday, staff at the Island Animal Hospital in Nanaimo received eight severely ill eagles. It’s believed the large birds gorged themselves on a dead pig at Nanaimo’s landfill. 

Veterinarian Ken Langelier says it appears the pig had been pumped full of powerful sedatives to euthanize the farm animal. The landfill has an area where euthanized animals can be deeply buried, but this pig appears to have been dumped like normal garbage. 

“It’s really sad,” Langelier told CTV News on Wednesday. Since Sunday, the Nanaimo vet clinic has seen two more ill eagles with identical symptoms arrive at their door, bringing the total number of affected birds to 10. 

While distraught about the death, Langelier says he is buoyed by the recovery of the remaining birds. “I thought we would lose more,” he said.

Video taken by the Raptor Rescue Society in Duncan shows the release of three of the eagles

Another three of the birds are recovering at the raptor centre in Duncan, while the remaining eagles were transported for observation at the North Island Wildlife Centre in Errington. 

The focus now for Langelier is education. Dealing with 10 ill birds in a short time period has him convinced him the general public isn’t aware that euthanized farm animals need to be disposed of in a safe fashion to protect wildlife. 

“We are talking about ways to educate the public,” said Langelier. 

The vet has contacted Nanaimo’s landfill and says he was told no requests to bury a euthanized animal have been made recently. Langelier says this means either the pig was dumped illegally, or the pig owners simply didn’t know other creatures could become deathly ill by it.