Bald Eagle dies of suspected lead poisoning

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CHOCOLAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJMN)- The Chocolay Raptor Center says a bald eagle they helped rescue has died from suspected lead poisoning.

Jerry Maynard, Co-founder of the Chocolay Raptor Center says the eagle was found in a woods near Iron River on Saturday. It was brought to the Raptor Center on Monday. The raptor center took the male adult to the veterinarian Monday night where an x-ray showed pellets in the eagle’s stomach. Maynard suspects the pellets were made of lead.

The plan was for Maynard to transport the eagle to Wild Instincts, a rehabilitation center in Rhinelander, WI but when Maynard began to prepare the bird for the transfer, he noticed that it was dead.

Maynard says the eagle’s body will now be taken to the Michigan DNR for a necropsy to confirm the cause of death.

When it comes to seeing birds with lead poisoning, Maynard says it’s more common in the fall season.

“Some of the studies at the University of Minnesota Veterinary…the raptor center they call it showed that the spike in lead poisoning coincides precisely with the deer hunting season,” said Maynard.

Compared to other birds, Maynard says vultures and eagles feed on dead animals which makes them more susceptible to lead poisoning. Maynard urges hunters to use alternative ammunition.

“Primarily copper,” said Maynard. “That is not toxic. They function in terms of performance in the gun equal to lead and now the price is coming down more and more as people are switching to copper.”

While this eagle did not survive, an eagle that we told you about in September that was found in Menominee with lead poisoning is recovering well. Maynard says he’s been at Wild Instincts and will hopefully be released back to Menominee in a week or two.

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