Bird lovers are heartbroken over the death of a special golden eagle. The beautiful bird called Yellowstone National Park home until she was found dead last December.
The 5-year-old beauty was the first golden eagle to wear a tracking device, giving humans a glimpse into their habitats. When park officials found her body they released a statement saying, “The marked raptor was part of a study to understand productivity, movements, survival, and cause of death in Yellowstone.”
The cause of death was recently released by the park. “A recent lab necropsy indicated the cause of death was lead poisoning. Levels found in the golden eagle were extremely high and well over lethal toxicity.”
Officials believe the golden eagle died after consuming animal carcasses that had fragments of lead bullets from hunters. “Transmitter data revealed that the eagle ranged extensively during the 2018 autumn hunting season north of the park before it died. Hunter-provided carrion, especially gut piles, is an important food resource for golden eagles and other avian scavengers. The lead levels in the marked eagle indicated it likely ate carrion that contained lead fragments.”
Lead poisoning has killed other species as well. “Lead is an environmental toxin well known for its capability to directly impact wildlife. Studies by Craighead Beringia South, a non-profit research institute based in Kelly, Wyoming, have shown that fragmented bullets often stay in the discarded remains of wild game and subsequently enter the food chain as they are consumed by other animals. Lead poisoning can result when wildlife species ingest the toxic materials,” stated the park.
Lead ammunition is dangerous to wildlife. In 2017, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduced a new policy “to phase out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle by January 2022 on more than 150 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges and other agency lands and waterways.” Sadly, three months later Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke nullified the policy, allowing lead ammunition and fishing tackle to be used in national parks.
The Humane Society Of The United States said, scientists have called lead ammunition the “greatest, largely unregulated source of lead knowingly discharged into the environment in the United States.”
Lead ammunition needs to be banned to save the lives of countless animals. Rest in peace, beautiful girl.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.