Bullet fragments in rifle-killed deer (Odocoileus spp.) carrion have been implicated as agents of lead intoxication and death in bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), California condors (Gymnogyps californianus), and other avian scavengers. Deer offal piles are present and available to scavengers in autumn, and the degree of exposure depends upon incidence, abundance, and distribution of fragments per offal pile and carcass lost to wounding. In radiographs of selected portions of the remains of 38 deer supplied by cooperating, licensed hunters in 2002–2004, we found metal fragments broadly distributed along wound channels. Ninety-four percent of samples of deer killed with lead-based bullets contained fragments, and 90% of 20 offal piles showed fragments: 5 with 0–9 fragments, 5 with 10–100, 5 with 100–199, and 5 showing >200 fragments. In contrast, we counted a total of only 6 fragments in 4 whole deer killed with copper expanding bullets. These findings suggest a high potential for scavenger exposure to lead.
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