In just over two months time, six bald eagles have been admitted to SOAR. One juvenile female and one adult were DOA (dead on arrival), the adult just last evening and as of right now, unsure of gender. The other four died in our care from the effects of extremely high blood lead levels. Four adult females died — each with a “HI” blood lead level as registered on our diagnostic equipment (level greater than what our equipment can measure) — New Market, Samantha, Adel, and Chichaqua. Maddening. Liver tissue samples from the other two will be sent to a diagnostic laboratory for a liver lead test.
The bald eagle, New Market, just died yesterday and was the first admitted of these six. We were so hopeful she was on the rebound, although it was a rough go. Maddening.
Lead is an absolutely horrible toxin that impacts all bodily functions. The maddening part is that this could be prevented.
Researchers from across the country have demonstrated that when raptors, particularly eagles and other avian scavengers, ingest lead ammunition or lead fishing tackle, their efficient digestive systems absorb the lead directly into the blood stream and that lead is circulated throughout the body. The body “sees” lead the same as it recognizes calcium. Every body needs calcium and the calcium is absorbed into bones and tissue. The very same thing happens when lead is in the body. The lead is absorbed just as if it was calcium and is stored in bones and tissue. A very small amount of lead ingested by an eagle will cause death — no more than a grain of rice. Some of the research conducted can be found on our site here.
Prevention. Ask your hunting and fishing friends to check out the non-toxic alternatives. Hunters and anglers have both had great success with these products. The more folks ask for non-toxic products… manufacturers will continue to improve product offerings.