DANGEROUS FEAST: More than 60 species of birds, including some endangered species, are at risk of lead poisoning from ammunition and fishing tackle. (Photo: Pen Waggener/Flickr)
We have long known the tragic effects of lead on humans: lethargy, mental impairment, growth defects and, at very high levels, death. In response, we've removed lead from many of the products that surround us, making our homes and communities safer. But did you know that wildlife also suffers from lead poisoning?
Each year, as many as 14 million Americans hunt deer, elk, fowl and other animals. Despite efforts to encourage alternatives, many of these hunters still use traditional lead ammunition. Shot and bullet fragments left behind in offal from dressed carcasses or dispersed over wetland areas can be ingested by scavengers, including diving birds, hawks and even bald eagles.
In this video, from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, Dr. Luis Cruz-Martinez explains the devastating effects of lead on eagles.
Even small amounts of lead can cause serious problems for wild birds; a single piece of shot or a single bullet fragment has been known to kill fully grown eagles and condors. And birds that do survive poisoning may experience problems with their immune function, leading to a slow death by disease or starvation.
For more information on non-lead ammunition, ask your local retailer or consult this list of manufacturers and retailers provided by the Arizona Department of Fish and Game. Hunt safely and help keep America clean for all wildlife.
The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.