EDITORIAL: The eagle has landed

By Amy Joseph Landon

Source: The Kentucky Standard
By The Kentucky Standard Editorial Board
January 23, 2021

Several news agencies, including The Kentucky Standard, reported on the recent death of the bald eagle that was found in a creek bed in Bernheim Forest on Dec. 30. After some gallant efforts to save the bald eagle, she died from internal injuries and lead poisoning. A representative from Louisville-based Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky theorized that based on where the bald eagle was found, her injuries were possibly caused by her falling from a tree onto rocks because lead poisoning had weakened her system to the point that she couldn’t fly.

Many birds fall prey to lead poisoning each year because of consuming fish that contain lead as a result of lead sinkers left in waterways, and scavenging on gut piles left by hunters with lead shot in them. Thousands of cranes, ducks, loons, geese and other waterfowl ingest lead fishing tackle that results in lead poisoning and eventually death.

For bald eagles, whose diet mainly consists of fish and dead animals, the risk of getting lead poisoning is very high. At the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, 21-25% of sick or injured bald eagles treated were found to have toxic levels of lead in their blood.

It’s important when hunting to bury the gut piles before leaving, and when fishing to find alternatives to lead sinkers and tackle, if possible. Little things like that can help to protect the beautiful creatures that fly through the sky and swim in our waterways.


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