I am willing to believe that lead poisoning is a serious issue for wildlife, but I’d be skeptical of automatically blaming lead shot. This article on lead poisoning by bald eagles is interesting, but there are key details I’d want to know that the article doesn’t explore:
When an eagle was found near Ferryville it was apparent that there was something wrong, so the Wisconsin DNR took the bird to Dr. Laura Johnson.
Dr. Johnson says, “She was having seizures, she was really wobbly. Those are really classic signs of lead poisoning.”
With the help from a Gundersen Lutheran pharmacist Dr. Johnson was able to get a hold of an antidote and started treatments.
Unfortunately, most eagles found with lead poisoning aren’t so lucky.
The questions to ask here would be:
- Were blood levels of lead tested for the bird? Or was the diagnosis made solely the basis of symptoms?
- If the blood levels were tested, are we sure the lead contamination is a result of ingesting shot?
- How common is lead poisoning by shot in birds, and does it have a detrimental effect on populations?
Humans have been using lead shot for hundreds of years. Why only now is it a wildlife holocaust? Obviously the Bald Eagle managed to recover the entire time while humans were using lead shot, and given the decline in hunting, it would seem to me that this should be a less serious problem than now. I’m willing to accept that lead shot is a problem, but I’ve seen no good science to show that’s the case yet.