PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Lead poisoning is to blame for a high number of bald eagles dying in Pennsylvania. Five of them that we know of in just the past two weeks.
Wildlife rehab centers say eagles, hawks, falcons, and other birds of prey are ingesting the lead from animals that may have been shot and even just a small fragment is enough to poison a bird.
"Hunters that use lead ammunition may not be able to retrieve what they have shot or they may field dress the animal and leave the gut pile in the wild," Lisa Smith, executive director of Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Newark, Delaware, said. Maybe thinking that they're helping to feed the wildlife, but all of that contains fragments of lead ammunition."
The birds may also be consuming fish that have come into contact with fishing equipment, like lead "sinkers".
With hunting season fast approaching, wildlife experts are urging hunters to use non-lead ammunition.
Tri-State treats about 2,500 birds a year. They say 70% of their injuries are related to human activity, but it's those recovery stories that keeps Smith going.
"When we can sort of right that wrong, and get the bird back into the wild, it's always a great day," Smith said.
For more information on Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research or to donate, please click here.