Lead in bullets poisoning eagles, says vet
Hunters are being warned that their bullets are killing eagles and other birds.
Helene Van Doninck, a veterinarian who runs the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, says people are bringing in eagles suffering and dying from lead poisoning.
It's usually because birds have eaten the remains of an animal shot. There are lead pellets inside of shotgun shells and some rifle bullets are lead-tipped.
"There is a lot of suspicion that when they're [birds] starting to get ill, they are less successful at hunting and having trouble surviving," she said.
"Generally when people find them, the typical phone call I will get from somebody is they found an eagle on the ground and it's just standing there, like people have been able to walk up and touch them."
Clifford Paul, a wildlife officer for five first nation communities in Cape Breton, says he's also seeing more cases of eagles suffering and dying from lead poisoning.
Hunters need to know the impact their bullets are having on birds, Paul says.
"People are starting to get educated. There's ... first nation communities in the U.S. that have voluntarily switched over to non-lead bullets. It's working well for them," Paul said.
"You look at the first nation communities that have traditional diets, not only are we worried about the mercury in our fish, we have to worry about the lead we ingest in our meat as well."
When hunters are educated, Van Doninck says most are willing to stop using bullets with lead and switch to copper bullets.
Humans can also suffer lead poisoning after eating game shot with a bullet with lead, she said.