Hunters use lead bullets to kill deer and other animals. Although the hunters aren’t targeting eagles, the birds are still indirectly affected when they consume animals shot with those bullets.
The latest incident for the center occurred Friday, when Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation found an eagle showing symptoms of lead poisoning and transported it to the Cape Fear Raptor Center for treatment. Dehydrated and too weak to move, the bird died the same night, said Lou Browning, president of the rehabilitation center.
Lead poisoning can cause a “lack of judgment when flying across roadways, the inability to take flight quickly resulting in being hit by cars, seizures and death,” Shimp said.
Depending on the severity of the poisoning, some eagles survive after veterinarians use chelation therapy, injecting the birds with a drug that binds the toxins in their bloodstream and allows it be removed from their bodies.
Those in too much pain are put down. Many die despite treatment.