Bald Eagle Visits the Hospital

While the pictures may appear majestic and proud, this is actually a bittersweet posting. The Iowa DNR recently brought in a Bald Eagle for Dr. Cherney to treat.  He was found weak and unable to fly near Grundy Center.  Upon exam, Lori could not find any visible damage, any broken bones or scrapes. We were hopeful.  Lori immediately sent blood work off to check for a variety of things that might explain his weakened condition.  Before we even had a chance to get the results back the Eagle started to seizure and eventually died.  We were deeply saddened to lose such a beautiful creature.  The blood work later revealed he had high levels of lead in his blood.

Lead Poisoning and Wildlife

We want to take this time to raise awareness about lead poisoning and wildlife.  Several varieties of birds (eagles, swans, geese, and loons for example) are at risk for lead poisoning.  Lead gets into their system in a variety of ways.  For example, eating spent shot from hunting, from fishing lures or weights, or through absorbing lead present in the soil and water.  These birds may accidentally ingest a piece of lead or more likely they consume it gradually over time by eating other animals that have high levels of lead.

How Big of a Problem Is It?

From the wildlife that is monitored through the DNR (depending on the species and state), anywhere from 15 to 33{cc651acb8fd21d18461bab90e3951e117ad976e0f5f2bec6fa2ec763fee94208} of eagles, swans, geese and certain ducks die due to lead poisoning.  This is often an “unseen” problem as birds don’t die in high numbers to catch the attention of the media. Individual birds who are weakened due to lead poisoning will seclude themselves away from public view, again keeping the problem from view.

How Can You Help?

Ask the hunters you know to only use non-toxic shot.  This is required in many places for waterfowl, but is not always for upland game.  Ask the fishermen and women you know to make sure their supplies are nontoxic and lead free. There are many lead-free alternatives for fishing.

Lead poisoning is a preventable problem. It is a problem right here in Iowa. Learn more about it now.