Winneshiek County bald eagle

Chip Admission Date: 28 October 2019
Outcome: Released 7 September 2020
Location of Rescue: Found near Chipera Prairie in Winneshiek County, Iowa
Cause of Admission / Condition: Unable to fly
Patient Status: Patient Archive, Success Stories

The first lead poisoned bald eagle of the 2019-2020 winter / hunting season was admitted 28 October 2019 from Winneshiek County, Iowa. The Decorah nest-camera-faithful needn’t worry, this adult male is not from either the Hatchery Nest or the Decorah North Nest. However, he’s likely to have a nest somewhere.

Thanks go to Winneshiek County Conservation staff for the rescue and first leg of the transport for this eagle. This adult male bald eagle was reported not flying near the entrance to their Chipera Prairie and when rescuers arrived, soon entangled himself in the cattails in the ditch.

As bald eagle transfers go (from one transporter’s crate to another), this was “too easy.” This eagle looked good and no broken bones could be felt, but wasn’t “eagley” (to borrow a phrase from Brian at the Hatchery!). The evening of admit, Kay and Savanna drew blood for a blood lead level. How many of you know what comes next? Yep, this eagle is lead poisoned. Fluids and first chelation treatment were given right then. “Chip” was alive the morning of the 29th.

Poisoning is wrong. Period. Lead is a bio-accumulative toxin that negatively impacts just about every system in the body.

Where did the lead come from? Most likely from this eagle eating on an animal carcass with lead ammunition fragments embedded. Second option is feeding on a fish that swallowed a piece of lead tackle.

Please hunt and fish lead-free and if you are not a hunter or angler, one, please understand we are, and two, help those that do hunt and fish to understand how they can go lead-free. Here are a couple of our website pages to help the conversation get started!

Then if you want to dive into the topic more in-depth, go here:


2 November 2019
Chip is still receiving chelation medication, he is eating some on his own. Not out of the woods yet.

16 November 2019
Blood lead level checked and is down to where chelation no longer needed. Moved to a 10x20' flight pen to stretch.

27 May 2020
Chip is in the 100' flight pen but is not flying with confidence yet.