ARLINGTON, Wash. -- A bald eagle in Arlington has died of severe lead poisoning on the same day Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reversed last-minute action by President Obama to ban lead ammunition and fish tackle on national wildlife refuges.
Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Arlington tried to save the eagle, but it was too sick. It died Thursday morning. Birds often feed on carcasses killed with lead ammunition.
"Yes it is very disappointing and sad that despite everything we did the toxicity was so high that it was not reversible," said Sarvey Wildlife Care Center Director Suzanne West. "This bird made very heartbreaking sad crying sounds all throughout the day and night. We can only try and hope for the best."
The bird died on the first full day in office for Interior Secretary Zinke. He issued an order that reversed action taken by the Obama administration that would have phased out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on wildlife refuges by 2022.
According to the Associated Press, Zinke says the order issued Thursday will increase hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities on lands managed by Fish and Wildlife Service. The former Montana congressman says the order also highlights the need to consult with local communities before taking actions.
The order, issued a day before Obama left office Jan. 20, was intended to protect birds from lead poisoning.
The gut piles left by hunters are often scavenged by bald eagles. Lead poisoned bald eagles are a chronic issue in the Midwest during deer hunting season.
Humans have also been diagnosed with lead poisoning from eating animals killed by lead shot. Children can also test positive for elevated lead levels in their blood when they eat meat from animals killed with lead ammunition. (See more information below by USGS - pdf)
"It's a really good example of a one-health issue. It's bad for wildlife and it's bad for kids," said Sarvey veterinarian Lesanna Lahner. "Consider using alternative ammunition such as copper which is proven safe for wildlife and is not toxic for humans."
Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Arlington tried to save the eagle, but it was too sick.