In just the past six weeks, six bald eagles are found locally, suffering from lead poisoning. Five of those six bald eagles succumed to their poisoning.
The Tamarack Wildlife Center in Saegertown says they're not sure why the spike in lead poisoning related cases exists in bald eagles all of the sudden, but they're hoping to work with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to help educate the public and let hunters know what they can do to help protect these birds.
The Wildlife Center says that just a tiny fragment of lead can kill a bald eagle. Carol Holmgren, the Executive Director of the Tamarack Wildlife Center, tells us, "It's from eating animals and from isotope analysis, we can see that it's coming from primarily ingested ammunition."
The fix, according to the Wildlife Center, is simply covering the remains of a dead animal, or burying them in the ground. "Raptors are primarily visual hunters, so if you keep it out of sight, they're not going to be as interested," says Holmgren.
There are more than 100 different types of bullets to choose from. However, the lead bullet is popular and the type of bullet by choice for many hunters because of it's ability to kill on impact; and therefore, the animal isn't suffering."
Bob McDowell, Owner of Bob's Gun Shop says, "I'd still say it's around 95% lead and the rest is non-toxic." He says he believes hunters would be willing to take measures to help protect the bald eagles, but he's not entirely convinced that lead poisoning is the issue. "We've hunted with lead for 200-250 years and it's never been a problem before... and now all of a sudden it's this dynamic problem."
Currently, the Wildlife Center has two bald eagles that they have been giving treatment to, and they're on the mend. The Center hopes to release them soon.
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