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Bald eagles dying from lead poisoning

Birds ingesting prey shot with lead bullets
Posted at 4:06 PM, Feb 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 14:41:26-05

The American Bald Eagle, a federally protected bird once considered endangered, is facing a new threat.

Conservationists say the majestic birds are being poisoned, and the number of cases are rising.

Some worry the problem will not slow down.



The Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery holds dozens of birds of all kinds who need some help before they are well enough to be freed or put to rest.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Interior lifted a ban on hunting with lead bullets on wildlife refuges. However it's still illegal to use lead ammo to hunt waterfowl.

Finch said she can easily tell when an eagle has lead poisoning.

"Inability to stand, convulsions, head tremors, difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal distress," she said, "because lead paralyzes the gut, so they can't digest food, dehydration."

Many hunters tell 3 News Now the reason they use lead ammunition is it is heavier than steel or copper, it reaches the target more accurately, and it's cheaper overall.

"Cost is a factor for a lot of people," Finch said.

The start of 2018 has been hard for Finch putting her time and energy into sometimes a losing effort.

"Because there are others that need our help," she said.

While she hopes hunters will think twice before firing off their rifles with lead bullets, she doesn't blame all hunters for this problems because they often are the ones who find these eagles and bring them in.