Eagle recovers from lead poisoning; release Tuesday

MARQUETTE – A juvenile bald eagle rescued Dec. 7 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will be released at 3 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday on the east side of the Superior Dome in Marquette.

The bird was examined at the Chocolay Raptor Center and after consultation was transferred to Wild Instincts Wildlife Rehab Center near Rhinelander, Wis.

A blood test indicated the eagle was suffering from lead poisoning and therapy was started immediately.

The eagle is now eating well and flying strongly and will be brought back to Marquette for its release.

Lead poisoning is a huge problem for eagles and vultures, the only raptor species that get all or a significant amount of their food from carrion. This eagle was observed feeding off a deer carcass for two days, and when approached, did not fly away, indicating something was wrong.

The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine has documented that 20% to 25% of the eagles treated have clinical lead poisoning and most die or have to be euthanized.

There are viable alternatives to lead ammunition and tackle, most notably copper, Chocolay Raptor Center officials said. California has banned all lead ammunition, effective this year because of its huge impact on the California condor.