To determine risk factors and seasonal trends of lead poisoning in bald (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and golden (Aquila chrysaetos) eagles, blood lead levels were evaluated in eagles admitted from the inland Pacific Northwest region of the United States to the Raptor Rehabilitation Program, College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University from 1991 to 2008. Admissions were from Washington (32 bald eagles, 27 golden eagles), northern Idaho (21 bald eagles, 25 golden eagles), northeastern Oregon (5 bald eagles, 6 golden eagles), Montana (2 bald eagles), Alaska (1 bald eagle), and unrecorded (6 bald eagles, 5 golden eagles). In these birds, 48% (22/46) of bald and 62% (31/50) of golden eagles tested had blood lead levels considered toxic by current standards. Of the bald and golden eagles with toxic lead levels, 91% (20/22) and 58% (18/31) respectively, were admitted after the end of the general deer and elk hunting seasons in December. Coyote hunting intensifies with the end of the large game hunting seasons and coyote carcasses left in the field and contaminated with lead bullet fragments become readily available food sources, exposing scavenging bald and golden eagles to high risk of acute lead poisoning.
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