Bald eagles suffer from lead poisoning from hunter bullets

Bald eagles, often called fish eagles, are North American raptors. They live near rivers or coastal areas and feed mainly on fish. According to a recent study, the presence of lead fragments in the body of these eagles represents a threat to their health. These pellets come from bullets used by hunters to kill deer or other animals.

Indeed, the researchers found high rates lead poisoning in these eagles. Furthermore, the results obtained suggest that they absorbed lead shards which come from the bullets in the animal carcasses left to hunt.

Moreover, the presence of these lead fragments in the bodies of these eagles could be at the origin lesions or train the death. The results of this research are published in the journal Science.

Weight exposure in sea eagles

Researchers know the effects of lead on bald eagles for decades. However, until this study, they had not been able to quantify the extent of lead exposure of these eagles.

Based on the results of their new research, these researchers explain that older eagles exhibit poisoning rates chronic lead higher than young people. Moreover, they indicate that a greater number of these eagles suffered acute poisoning. This means that they may have been exposed to high levels of lead for a short time.

Furthermore, a acute poisoning would be more likely to occur in winter, when eagles usually eat less fish, rabbits, squirrels and other foods.

We got samples from Alaska to Florida, from Maine to California, so we really had this large sample size that reflects this national pattern that we see in these birds. »

Vince Slabe, wildlife research biologist at Conservation Science Global and study co-author

Deplorable consequences for these birds

Birds repeatedly exposed to lead fragments may suffer from several diseases such as lesions, convulsions, paralysis and may sometimes die. In addition, scientists estimate that exposure to lead reduces 4% the rate of growth annual eagle population. Therefore, this intoxication would be an obstacle to the expansion of these eagles.

SOURCE: SCIENCEALERT

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