Bluestem isn't fond of headlines like Bald Eagles Keep Dying And No One's Talking About It, since we typically find the topic of such click bait actually is being discussed somewhere. Such a discussion took place last week on the floor of the Minnesota House over an amendment to HF888, the omnibus environment and natural resources budget bill.
Spoiler alert: the above-referenced article from The Dodo is about bald eagles dying from poisoning after ingesting lead from spent bullets:
. . . The lead gets into the bodies of bald eagles — as well as owls and other kinds of raptors — after they've eaten dead animals shot by hunters who use lead bullets. "Raptors are quite willing to be scavengers, so they scavenge," she said. "They eat things that have been shot. Lead ammunition is the biggest source." . . .
Birds with more severe poisoning who manage to survive take months to treat and fully rehabilitate. "We had one eagle whose lead level was relatively low, but she was paralyzed, she couldn't stand, she couldn't unclench her feet," Tomkins said. "It took several treatments to get the lead level down. It took several months for her to fly normally again. It took six months. That was a long time."
Even when bald eagles suffer from lower levels of lead exposure, their coordination and decision-making can be compromised. "This can put him in more dangerous positions, like scavenging along the road for roadkill and then he can be hit by a car," Tompkins explained.
As Tompkins' latest patient was struggling for his life, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, was overturning a ban on the use of lead ammunition in wildlife refuges. . . .
Read the rest in the article, but be forewarned: there aren't any pretty pictures. Not unlike much of the debate last Thursday when outdoorswoman and Roseville DFL state representative Jamie Becker-Finn introduced an amendment to remove language prohibiting the DNR Commissioner from adopting rules to prohibit the use of lead shot on some public lands.
The debate included brilliant items like this from The Draz:
Drazkowski says over the course of his life, he's had lots of lead shot pellets in his mouth & animals he's consumed. That's all. #mnleg— Leili Fatehi (@LFatehi) March 31, 2017
Meanwhile, Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, claimed the amendment was part of a PETA plot, while Mary Franson tweeted about hair dye and lipstick containing lead. Okay then.
Here's the entire debate on the amendment:
Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) researchers examining 58 dead bald eagles in 2012. Sixty percent had detectable concentrations of lead; 38 percent had lethal lead concentrations. Credit: USFWS.
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