- Associated Press - Saturday, August 9, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Only a small fraction of bald eagles suffer from high levels of lead exposure, according to a new Iowa State University report.

The ISU study, released Friday, was based on lead tests of excrement gathered twice a year for two years from 110 bald eagle nests around Iowa, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1uzjvgL ).

“We found very few (wild) eagles had high levels of lead exposure, and a lot of the samples had small amounts,” Julie Blanchong, associate professor of natural resource ecology and management who led the study, told the newspaper.

Before the study, data on lead levels came from birds in rehabilitation centers, where the exposure was considerably higher.

“It raised a question: Does that represent the overall population?” Blanchong asked.

Raptor rehabilitation centers in Iowa have found that most bald eagles arriving sick or injured have been poisoned by lead from ammunition. Officials in those facilities and wildlife groups have called for ending the sale of shot and slugs made of lead.

Lead in bald eagles, often thought to occur through scavenging carcasses shot by hunters, disrupts their bodily functions and development and can lead to death.

The report does have its critics.

Kay Neumann of Saving Our Avian Resources, a raptor rehabilitator in Dedham, compared the ISU report to “walking down the street, checking every teenager to see if they died in a car accident.

“You might not find one, but it is one of the leading causes of mortality,” Neumann said.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com


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