Come to Red Rock Visitor Center at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, to learn about eagles in Iowa and why we’re still talking about the impacts of lead on wildlife and people. Helping with the program will be Thora, SOAR’s education ambassador eagle. Come learn about Thora’s story and what each of us can do to prevent other wildlife from getting sick from the effects of lead.
A rehabilitated bald eagle will be released by SOAR – Saving Our Avian Resources after the program. We’ll release this eagle at the South Tailwater Area, across the road from the Red Rock Visitor Center.
This 4-year old adult male eagle was rescued from the side of the road in Montgomery County and did have elevated blood lead levels. The eagle was rescued on Nov. 21 and taken to the SOAR raptor rehabilitation facilities. This male eagle received chelation therapy to remove lead from his body and spent time recuperating and regaining strength in the 100-foot flight pen.
When an eagle has elevated lead levels, the likely source of lead is 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 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 278 bald eagles for treatment. Over half of these eagles (164) 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!
For more information about rehabilitating eagles and other raptors with lead poisoning symptoms, non-lead ammunition, and more, please visit www.soarraptors.org.