LEAD POISONING A THREAT TO EAGLES AND OTHER WILDLIFE
Wabasha, MN (May 9, 2022) As states in the region start to open the fishing season, the National Eagle Center is asking anglers to avoid using lead tackle in order to help prevent the increasing threat of lead poisoning to the eagle population.
The journal Science recently released a study of more than 1,200 Bald and Golden Eagles that reported nearly half of the eagles tested positive to repeated exposure to lead poisoning.
“The story of the resurgence of the Bald Eagle in North America from the brink of extinction is one of the greatest conservation success stories in our nation’s history,” said Meg Gammage-Tucker, Ph.D., CFRE, CEO of the National Eagle Center. “However, the threat of lead poisoning to eagles is real and can be prevented. We know first-hand the damage that lead can do to eagles. One of our eagle ambassadors, Columbia, is a lead poisoning survivor that cannot be released back into the wild because of the neurological damage caused by the poisoning.”
The National Eagle Center has joined forces with the Minnesota DNR and the Pollution Control Agency’s program Get the Lead Out that offers tips to anglers on what they can do to prevent the spread of lead poisoning through bait and tackle.
Tips to anglers from the Get the Lead Out Program include:
- Find lead-free fishing tackle in our manufacturer’s directory.
- Don’t throw old fishing gear into the water or shore.
- Properly dispose of unwanted lead tackle.
- Don’t put a lead sinker in your mouth. Use pliers to attach sinkers to your fishing line.
- Wash your hands after handling lead sinkers or cleaning out your tackle box.
- Spread the word. Tell your friends about the problem. Encourage them to switch to lead-free sinkers and jigs.
- Ask your favorite retailers to stock lead-free fishing tackle.
“It only takes a tiny bit of lead to poison an eagle and many other raptors, and most often the result is death,” Gammage-Tucker said. “We can make a difference by spreading the word to anglers and hunters that lead tackle and ammunition is taking a toll on our eagle population and other waterfowl.”
Minnesota’s fishing opener is Saturday, May 14, 2022.
About the National Eagle Center
The National Eagle Center is a world-class interpretive nonprofit, located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Wabasha, MN. Founded in 1989 by a group of volunteers, the Center has grown to the 15,000 square foot facility which was opened in partnership with the City of Wabasha in 2007. Guests to the Center can explore two floors of interactive exhibits as well as meet non-releasable Bald Eagles up close and view the many Bald Eagles that call the Upper Mississippi River Valley home. For more information visit nationaleaglecenter.org.