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Bald Eagle Dies Of Lead Poisoning, Another Found Shot Is Recovering

(KFSM)-Hundreds of bald eagles die each year from lead poisoning, according to wildlife experts. One found in Hagarville, a city located in Johnson County, had ...

(KFSM)-Hundreds of bald eagles die each year from lead poisoning, according to wildlife experts.

One found in Hagarville, a city located in Johnson County, had lead in its blood more than five times the lethal limit, according to Lynne Slater, founder of HAWK Center. X-rays from Monday (Jan. 26) show the eagle ingested lead.

“She died within 16 hours,” Slater said.

Research shows lead poisoning can come from the environment, but Slater said exposure often happens from hunters and fisherman.

“It can come from lead sinkers,” Slater said. “It can also come from lead shot. The lead shot in carcasses, whether it's a carcass that is not caught or animal that runs off and dies because it had escaped.”

Legislation has been in place since 1991 for duck hunters to use steel shot, but deer hunters can still use lead bullets. Wildlife advocates are pushing for lead-free ammunition, such as copper bullets.

“If the eagles are eating the carcasses and ingesting the bullets, then the hunters need to be cleaning up their mess; either that, or Game and Fish needs to get out there and figure out what`s going on, but it really has nothing to do with the bullets,” Bobby Fleck, gun owner said.

A bald eagle found near Paris came into the non-profit rehabilitation center before Christmas. The eagle had been shot with a lead bullet and is being treated.

“Her lead poisoning level at intake was .24, and we did a chelation treatment therapy which is a very long and expensive and painful treatment,” Slater said.

Slater said the bird’s lead-levels are being monitored, but she is eating and highly alert.

To find out more about HAWK Center, click here.

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