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Service Examines Eagles for Lead Poisoning
Midwest Region, March 22, 2012
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Bald eagles found dead in the Midwest are dissected for tissues to do chemical testing and then sent off to the National Eagle Feather Repository.
Bald eagles found dead in the Midwest are dissected for tissues to do chemical testing and then sent off to the National Eagle Feather Repository. - Photo Credit: Photograph by USFWS; Mike Coffey.
Bald eagle tissue is harvested by Eric Tomasovic from the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
Bald eagle tissue is harvested by Eric Tomasovic from the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. - Photo Credit: Photograph by USFWS; Mike Coffey.

Fish and Wildlife Service field stations commonly collect and store eagle carcasses for shipment and use at the National Eagle Repository near Denver, Colorado. Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge staff alerted the Rock Island, Illinois Ecological Services Field Office that over several years they had collected a number of eagles and were ready to ship them to the repository. Refuge staff inquired whether some diagnostics might be conducted on the large number of eagles for future use. That inquiry triggered interest from a number of Service field stations and state resource agencies in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. As a result, 63 bald eagle carcasses and one golden eagle were assembled at the Upper Mississippi River Refuge garage and were analyzed for clues to the cause of their death.

 

Scientists from the Fish and Wildlife Service and local university students weighed, measured and dissected the eagle carcasses for indications of body condition. The scientists were from the Rock Island Illinois Ecological Services Field Office, the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Green Bay Wisconsin Ecological Services Field Office, and the students were from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. The liver tissues collected will be analyzed for concentrations of lead in conjunction with the Service’s Environmental Contaminants Program. Lead has been shown to be one of the leading causes of eagle mortality. This was an opportunity to investigate whether secondary lead poisoning is a problem in this geographic area.

The information from the examination and tissue analysis for lead will be summarized and if significant, the results can be published so that others can benefit from our findings. The results will also be included in the raptor contaminants database.

Please contact Mike Coffey at michael_coffey@fws.gov for more information.


See this link for more information on the National Eagle Repository: http://www.fws.gov/le/Natives/EagleRepository.htm

See this link for more information on the post-delisting monitoring plan for the bald eagle: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/eagle/protect/FinalBAEA_PDMPlan.html

See this link for more information on the Raptor Contaminants Database: http://ris.wr.usgs.gov/


Contact Info: Mike Coffey, 309-793-5800 X515, michael_coffey@fws.gov



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