Wildlife expert warns of dangers of lead poisoning

Environment

WASHINGTON BORO, Pa. (WHTM) — Concern is growing when it comes to lead poisoning in animals.

The effects are grim, causing neurological damage that sometimes is fatal.

“We have now been testing every raptor that comes in, and they are all showing some level of lead poisoning,” said Tracie Young, Raven Ridge Wildlife Center rehabilitator and director.

There’s a couple culprits for lead poisonings in animals, like sunken sinkers swallowed by fish.

“Now the eagle comes down or the osprey comes down, gets that fish, and starts eating it,” Young said.

Lead bullets are also a big problem. If a hunter misses his target or leaves a carcass out with a lead bullet, birds will find it, mistaking it for food.

“It just keeps building up in the system. Sometimes they die before we’re able to find them,” Young said.

The treatment for lead poisoning is both long and expensive. Young said she had one eagle for 10 months.

“We start them on the chelation therapy to try to pull the lead from the body from the bones and have them flush that,” Young said.

The best way to prevent poisoning is by switching to copper or steel bullets. Young said it’s a cleaner, quicker kill.

“Yes, it’s cheaper, but when lead shot hits its target, it fragments,” Young said.

If you see a wild animal acting strangely, call Raven Ridge or your local wildlife rehab center. They can walk you through the process of securing an animal, safely.

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