Bald eagle lead exposure in the Upper Midwest

Photo Credits:  US Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo Credits: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Thousands of bald eagles migrate in winter and hundreds of eagles nest in spring along the Upper Mississippi River corridor. Their journey in America’s Heartland may be a dangerous one. Dead eagles are randomly collected by state and federal conservation agencies. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers examined 168 bald eagles that were randomly found dead scattered throughout the states of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. A surprising 48% had detectable lead concentrations and 21% had lethal levels. Bald eagles are predators and scavengers that hunt and fish and only feed on animal matter. The search for a source of lead-contaminated animal matter led researchers to focus on ammunition used for hunting deer. During managed hunts, 25 white-tailed deer were harvested with lead ammunition. Radiographs were used to identify lead fragments embedded in deer entrails that are typically discarded on the landscape by hunters and are available to scavengers.

Ed Britton from the US Fish and Wildlife Service will share the results of this interesting investigation.  Join us Monday, March 16, 2015 at 7PM in the Moline Public Library.

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