(Valparaiso, IN) - Humane Indiana Wildlife has provided an update on the critically ill bald eagle found at Potato Creek State Park last week.
A bird-watcher found the young eagle near death last Monday. Animal rescuers took the sick bird to the animal rehab center in Valparaiso, where it soon died of lead poisoning.
On Thursday the center revealed the results of an autopsy. According to Humane Indiana Wildlife: "The x-rays showed what our team suspected; high blood lead levels were seen because lead fragments were presently inside the eagle. The positioning of the fragments suggested that they were inside the stomach, and not because the eagle had been shot."
Because bald eagles are highly protected, the team had to obtain permission to investigate further from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Eventually, seven tiny pieces of lead shot were found in the eagle’s stomach. Experts say a piece of lead no bigger than a grain of rice can kill an adult eagle.
The animal center did not place blame solely on hunters and fishermen, whose ammo and fishing tackle often contribute to such incidents. "Lead can come from many different places, [such as] polluted waterways, roadside sediment, roof flashing, lead paint on old houses," they said. "We hope this information continues to raise awareness to threats to our native wildlife that can occur when materials are discarded, or alternatives are not used."