Wildlife officials work to preventing wildlife lead poisoning

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 5:43 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center in Roanoke is asking fishermen and hunters to stop using lead weights and bullets.

This comes after the center received two bald eagles late at night on New Year’s Eve. Both eagles were from rural southwestern Virginia.

The male was suffering from lead poisoning after being shot. The female did not make it; she had the highest lead levels the center had ever seen.

Sabrina Garvin, the center’s executive director, says it’s possible the eagle consumed another animal with shattered fragments of a lead bullet in its system.

Fish will swallow lead weights and are later consumed by an animal higher up the food chain. Lead bullets shatter inside the animal, where they are later consumed by scavenging animals.

This does not affect just eagles and once it enters the body it has no natural way to leave. It gradually builds up over time until the animal dies or if it’s lucky enough, it makes it way to a wildlife center.

”Think about using brass and non-lead products especially on the sinkers when they’re fishing. This is one thing we can do to help our animals immediately,” says Garvin.

Staff with the center say fragments of lead the size of a grain of rice are enough to poison eagles and other creatures.

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