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Iosco Eagle Dies of Lead Poisoning

Earlier this week, we received the necropsy results for our bald eagle from the Iosco County area.

We admitted the eagle on April 4th without any visible signs of trauma, but it was extremely weak and unable to keep down any food. We had been attempting to stabilize it with fluids and pain medication, but the eagle passed away late on April 5th. After its death, we sent it to the state’s lab for further testing.

The necropsy report showed that the eagle’s cause of death was lead poisoning.

Sadly, this is not uncommon: a recent study concluded that almost half of all eagles in America have signs of chronic lead exposure. Scientists are still researching how it enters the food chain, but lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle seem to be the most likely culprits at this point.

Along with this eagle, we admitted a second eagle from the Otsego County area on April 4th. Like the Iosco eagle, testing revealed that it had a toxic amount of lead in its system. The initial blood testing for this eagle found that it had a lead level of 104 micrograms per deciliter (ug/DL). For context, the Michigan Department of Health considers 4.5 (ug/DL) or higher to be dangerous in a child.

We are still continuing to treat this second eagle. He received a multi-faceted regimen involving two types of chelation treatments and is an outdoor enclosure because of his progress, but he has a long road ahead of him still.

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