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Archive for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bald eagle fighting for life

Lead shot fragments in food chain cause poisoning

Aaron Hendicks a Kansas Wildlife and Parks enforcement officer holds up some lead shotgun shells, on the west side of Clinton Lake where hunting is permitted but signs tell of the hazard of using lead shot. This past weekend Hendrichs brougth in Bald Eagle to Operation Wildlife near Lindwood, which had been infected by lead posing due to eating of wildlilfe that also had lead in it's system and make the eagel sick.

Aaron Hendicks a Kansas Wildlife and Parks enforcement officer holds up some lead shotgun shells, on the west side of Clinton Lake where hunting is permitted but signs tell of the hazard of using lead shot. This past weekend Hendrichs brougth in Bald Eagle to Operation Wildlife near Lindwood, which had been infected by lead posing due to eating of wildlilfe that also had lead in it's system and make the eagel sick.

February 13, 2007

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Lead pellets don't have to be fired from a shotgun to kill birds.

During the past six weeks, two bald eagles and a goose died from lead poisoning despite treatment at Operation WildLife, a rehabilitative center near Linwood for injured or orphaned animals. The birds had ingested pieces of lead.

Now, another bald eagle at the center is fighting for its life because of two pieces of lead found in its digestive system, director Diane Johnson said.

"Right now is a critical time for him," Johnson said. "The prognosis is very guarded, and he could go either way at any time."

The eagle most likely ingested the lead after eating waterfowl that also had swallowed the lead or had been shot and killed with a lead-loaded shotgun shell, said Aaron Henrichs, an officer with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Henrichs and another KDWP officer picked up the eagle on Saturday. A Topeka couple called Henrichs after noticing the eagle had been sitting in one place for several hours. It was on ice in the Kansas River near the Shawnee-Douglas county line.

"It was blind, so it could never really see us," Henrichs said.

The eagle was taken to Operation Wildlife where X-rays revealed lead pieces in its digestive system.

Eagles and other birds often fall victim to an environmental problem that has built up over decades when hunters used mostly lead pellets in their shotgun shells. In the early 1990s, federal law prohibited lead from being used to hunt migratory birds such as ducks. Pellets now have to be made of nontoxic steel. But lead still can be used to hunt upland birds, such as quail and pheasant.

Eagles are migratory birds, but they are protected under federal law and cannot be shot at all.

Lead also can be used in target shooting. And some gun enthusiasts are prone to shooting at other objects along the river, Henrichs said.

KDWP officers check hunters to make sure they are carrying legal shells. The standard fine for illegally shooting with lead is $75, but it could be less if someone sways a judge with a plea in court.

"I guess the frustrating thing for me would be just people who are down on the riverbed carelessly shooting trap or bottles or target shooting, and I don't have any control over that, and that can be just as big of a contributor to the problem as illegally hunting with lead," Henrichs said.

Bald eagles are a common sight along the river and at Clinton and Perry lakes. So are ducks, and they are especially susceptible to lead poisoning because they can scoop up pieces while seeking food in shallow wetlands, Henrichs and Johnson said. A duck then gets sick, and an eagle picks it off as an easy food target.

The 8-pound male eagle brought in by Henrichs is now eating, and Johnson hopes it will throw up the lead pieces. It also is being given medication to take out the lead in its blood. On Monday, the bird's vision had improved, she said.

If the eagle survives, it may still have permanent physical damage, Johnson said.

"We'll have to assess it for damage," she said. "We'll make sure it can fly, catch and kill things. We want to see this bird back in the wild."

Comments

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

Loudmouthrealist...you said it all baby! How refreshing to see posted what i wanted to say!

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loudmouthrealist 7 years, 2 months ago

Anglers (Fishers) are a major source of lead in our lakes, rivers and shorelines. It is about time all people fishing take this issue very serious. Non-lead sinkers are available, even though they cost a bit more. I think it is time for big brother government to step in and outlaw ALL lead sinkers and bullets( not only shotgun shells). Lead in our environment does not only effect wildlife. Any wildlife (fish or fowl) that ingests lead and then is eaten by you our a family member can pass on the poisoning effect to those persons. It does not take a lot of lead to poison a child or pregnant women.

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Redzilla 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't see why there's any excuse for the ongoing manufacture of lead ammo. Requiring that all of it be steel wouldn't cause any harm. Might make target shooters and hunters more accurate, if the ammo was more expensive. Chris Rock once observed that if every bullet cost $5,000, no one would shoot innocent bystanders.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 2 months ago

"The standard fine for illegally shooting with lead is $75, but it could be less if someone sways a judge with a plea in court."

THIS needs to be addressed. We need to be less tolerant of "Cheney-style" shooters who don't pay attention to how their choices are impacting others. $75 is not enough when one conisders that these are people who are being irresponsible with GUNS. I, for one, would be much happier if fines for gun violations were much, much higher. NOT in an effort to be "anti-gun", but for the sake of having fines that are appropriate to the impact.

Dick Cheney is a good example of what I'm talking about. ANYONE who shoots someone else has violated the first rule of firearms: never point a gun at a person. He should have been fined or prosecuted for "negligence" or something. There is NO excuse for that. If they had been on a turkey hunt, a turkey load would have really messed that guy up (dead).

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 2 months ago

I've been known to kill the occasional clay pigeon (for food, of course). I'd gladly pay a little more for non-toxic shot shells.

Most hunters are really quite concerned about the environment. They are not out to "kill everything". They see their activities as being a part of nature, not against nature. It's one of those situations where the 5% idiot-factor makes the rest of the responsible hunters look bad.

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Bladerunner 7 years, 2 months ago

I get my food at Hy-Vee. I use minimal ammo and there's little chance of lead poisoning.

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Centrist 7 years, 2 months ago

Always thought hunting was a stupid idea anyway, unless you're doing it to survive ...

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KS 7 years, 2 months ago

Thanks go to Operation Wildlife. Keep up the good work.

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