By the numbers

While 2020 is thankfully in the rear-view, SOAR is not quite done collecting bald eagle data for 2020. There are still what are termed active or pending bald eagle admits from last year. In 2020, SOAR admitted 77 bald eagles from across Iowa. Even though 12 bald eagles are still actively in rehab, most all have had a blood lead or liver lead test. One liver lead test is pending and is one of the two unknowns in the pie chart below. Twenty of the 77 bald eagles had elevated lead or 30% of the 2020 bald eagle admits were lead poisoned. One poisoning is one to many. Please hunt and fish lead free. Please continue to encourage others to switch to non-toxic ammunition and tackle.

lead levels

Here’s another way to look at the bald eagle and lead data. The bar chart has all the bald eagle admits from 2015-2020 that show the percentage of bald eagles tested for lead that have an elevated lead level. We look at these numbers by month of the year – so all January admits are together, regardless of year. We wanted to know when during the year are bald eagles admitted with lead test results showing elevated lead levels?

prevalence of elevated lead tests

SOAR checks lead levels in the vast majority of bald eagle admits – only 12 bald eagles of the 327 admitted from 2015-2020 did not have a lead test done.

What’s the first thing that you notice about the second chart? Some months are showing a 0% – meaning that none of the bald eagles tested in those months had elevated lead levels. Five months show that anywhere between 40% and 60% of bald eagles tested for lead will have an elevated lead level.

Do you know a high school teacher or are you a high school teacher? Visit this page to learn about the SOAR Student Data Project where students can explore authentic Iowa data with SOAR’s bald eagle database. We are also working on information for middle school teachers and students, stay tuned.