Lead ammunition could be harmful for eagles

KIMT News 3 – A popular outdoor hobby could be hurting the eagle population in our area.

Local environmentalists say that lead-based ammunition, used most commonly during deer hunting season, is to blame for the deaths of bald eagles.

The birds are meat-eaters so they tend to feed off carcasses left behind by hunters.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are sending out a warning to hunters.

They’re asking folks to be cautious about what kinds of bullets they are using and educate themselves about the harmful effects this kind of ammunition could have.

Craig Zoellner, an instructor in the natural sciences department at NIACC, says that no matter how thorough a hunter cleans off the carcass, there can still be pieces left behind.

“Especially when they hit the bone.” he says, “They fragment, so they go into many pieces.,not a solid slug, that’s what enters, but then that can fragment and break into many pieces, so it could be in in the muscle that you actually take home to eat or it could be in the internal parts.”

Zoellner says that hunters can go above and beyond and bring carcasses home with them, but the easiest way to avoid any lead poisoning is to switch ammunition.

“The best thing would be to change the ammunition that they use,” Zoellner says. “Lead is considered toxic shot material, so change what you’re hunting with to some nontoxic source.”

So far, there is no lead restriction in Iowa or Minnesota for deer hunting.

The wildlife service is suggesting that hunters use copper bullets instead of the lead-based options.

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