SOAR – Saving Our Avian Resources is excited to announce that an eagle that had elevated lead levels is ready for release back to the wild! Join us at 2:00 p.m. at Jester Park Lodge, near Granger, Iowa, for a program about eagles in Iowa as part of the Bald Eagle Watch around Saylorville Lake. We’ll release this eagle at the end of the 2:00 program.
State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo will be given the honor of releasing the eagle in recognition for her continued support of protecting wildlife against lead poisoning. She is the primary sponsor of House File 165, a bill that will authorize the Iowa Natural Resource Commission to limit the types of ammunition that may be used to take wildlife in the state, thereby possibly reducing the number of eagles diagnosed with lead poisoning. Other co-sponsors of the bill include: Dan Kelley of Newton; Sharon Steckman of Mason City; and Charles Isenhart of Dubuque.
This adult male eagle did have elevated blood lead levels and was hit by a car while dining on roadkill along Highway 141 near Bayard, Iowa. The eagle was rescued on December 7 and taken to the SOAR raptor rehabilitation facilities nearby. A few miles south of this rescue location, another adult eagle was not as lucky and was also seen eating roadkill and later killed after being struck by a semi-truck
When an eagle ingests lead from a deer carcass (or another animal shot with lead shot or lead bullet that was not found by the hunter), the lead is quickly absorbed into the eagle’s bloodstream because their digestive system is so efficient. Lead poisoning affects the nervous and circulatory systems and weakens the bird so that flying and hunting become difficult, they become uncoordinated, may have vision issues, and have difficulty breathing, seizures often accompany these symptoms. 200 milligrams (about the size of #4 shot) is enough to kill an eagle.
Many of us in Iowa have been working very hard to educate hunters and consumers of game meat in hopes that hunters will voluntarily choose to switch to non-lead ammunition. Thank you to the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project, MacBride Raptor Project, and Wildlife Care Clinic for also rescuing and treating lead-affected eagles! Since 2004, Iowa wildlife rehabilitators have admitted 247 bald eagles for treatment. Over half of these eagles (144) had ingested lead, resulting in elevated lead levels in their blood and body tissues. These are only a sample, as not all sick and injured eagles are found and brought to rehabilitators. These lead poisoning deaths are completely preventable, please hunt lead-free!
The Saylorville Bald Eagle Watch is scheduled 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the Saylorville Lake Visitor Center, Jester Park Lodge, and various sites around the reservoir.
For more information about rehabilitating eagles and other raptors with lead poisoning symptoms, non-lead ammunition, and more, please visit www.soarraptors.org.