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Lead poisoning a hazard for birds of prey
Published Thursday, November 29, 2012 4:31PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:20PM MST
A Golden Eagle is expected to make a fully recovery after suffering a severe case of lead poisoning believed to be the result of careless hunters.
The raptor was near death when it was discovered near Canmore in early November.
Wildlife biologists believe the bird had ingested lead after feeding off of an animal carcass left behind by hunters.
Lead bullets fragments into hundreds of shards after striking an animal and what a hunter leaves behind is an easy meal for an eagle migrating south.
Wildlife biologists say they typically see many bald and golden eagles with lead poisoning at this time of year.
The eagle discovered near Canmore is one of the lucky ones, as he should make a full recovery thanks to the efforts of the staff at the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, but many times the big birds die in the wild with no one knowing about it.
Dianne Witner of the Alberta Institue for Wildlife Conservation says there’s nothing natural about animals dying from lead poisoning.
“A lot of people think that what we're doing here is not letting nature take its course,” says Witner. “These animals are coming in injured or sick and the vast majority of animals that come here are here because of something humans have done.”
Institute staff are planning to drive the golden eagle to a location near the U.S. border to release him in the next few weeks following a stint in an outdoors enclosure to ensure he's strong enough for his southern migration.