Lead and Eagles
Hi! We would like to tell you a bit about our research project to investigate lead poisoning in bald and golden eagles. Our team consists of UC Santa Cruz faculty and students who are passionate about conserving healthy populations of eagles across the United States.
We know that eagles are lead poisoned on a regular basis from inadvertently ingesting lead fragments while feeding on animals that have been shot with lead-based ammunition, but without information on the eagles’ lead exposure history, we can’t understand the severity of this problem.
Our research group has developed a method to assess the lead exposure history of a bird by analyzing their feathers and we need your help so we can measure lead in eagle feathers! We are seeking $10,000 to pay for the special reagents and instrument time needed to measure lead in ~10 feathers collected from bald and golden eagles. Our results will not only be a critical first step to understand the impact of lead poisoning on eagles but our research group engages graduate (such as Zeka Kuspa featured in the short video) and undergraduate students to provide them with a unique opportunity for contributing to a project that has important conservation implications.
We have a history of saving species with science! We have shown unequivocally that Laysan albatross chicks were severely lead-poisoned from ingesting lead-based paint and that this lead poisoning was contributing to population declines, prompting the remediation of lead-based paint on Midway Atoll. Our research identified lead-based ammunition as the principal source of lead poisoning in California condors and found that lead poisoning is the primary impediment to condor recovery. Our findings were instrumental in the passage of AB 711, which outlaws the use of lead-based ammunition for hunting in California. Thus, we can use this successful approach to assess the population-level impact of lead poisoning on eagles and fill a needed information gap in the efforts to protect human and wildlife health from lead in the environment. But first we need to gain a better understanding of an eagle’s lead exposure history.
We have witnessed firsthand the heartbreaking suffering that lead poisoned birds endure and strongly believe that with your help our research will be a critical step to protect eagles from lead. Can you help us help eagles today?
For updates on the Leaded Eagles project contact Dr. Finkelstein.