HEALTH

Lead-poisoned bald eagle from Prince William County dies

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The Wildlife Center of Virginia says a third bald eagle admitted with lead poisoning has died.

The bird, from Prince William County, is the third bald eagle admitted to the center with lead poisoning in the past two weeks, and the second to die from it in as many days.

On December 30, a bald eagle with lead toxicity was admitted from Fauquier County; that eagle died on January 1. Also on January 1, the Center admitted a bald eagle from Chesapeake with high lead levels. That eagle is receiving treatment.

The January 11 eagle was picked up near Route 234 on January 10 then later taken to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro. Upon admission, officials say, the bird was thin and showing classic symptoms of lead toxicity. Despite treatment, the bird died Friday.

Center officials say that in 2011, of the 36 bald eagles admitted, six showed signs of lead toxicity, and another 15 had measurable levels of lead.

Tests show that many of these birds have ingested lead shotgun pellets or bullet fragments. Officials say the birds are poisoned after feeding on animals that have been shot but not recovered by hunters, or by feeding on the entrails of game animals harvested and “field dressed.”

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