Wilson area bald eagle dies from lead toxicity

Pema the bald eagle that later died. Courtesy Cape Fear Raptor Center

ROCKY POINT, N.C. (WNCN) – A bald eagle died from lead toxicity on Sunday and there is a new message for hunters, according to the Cape Fear Raptor Center.

The bald eagle named Pema, was brought to the Pender County center back on January 14 after she was found by another rehabilitation group in a field adjacent to Lake Wilson.

Scott Shimp, the center’s rehabilitation director, told CBS North Carolina that Pema had neurological signs that indicated lead toxicity and the level was so high the center could not get an exact reading.

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The next day, Pema went into surgery and had seven lead pellets removed. Some of them were the size of a typical BB and others were a grain of sand.

Lead amounting to a grain of sand is enough to take an eagle down, said Shimp.

She then went through treatment to try and bind the lead and take it out of her bloodstream and completed that Friday.

After seeming to rally for a bit, Pema died Sunday.

Shimp said the center has helped 21 bald eagles within the past year and 15 of them had some lead in their bloodstream.

The lead found in Pema likely came from eating deer carcasses that had lead left from a hunter’s gunshot, Shimp said.

The center supports hunting and encourages hunters to switch from using lead ammunition on wild game. It can make a human just as sick as a bird, Shimp said.

The organization gets some deer meat donated but is now scanning it to see if lead is present.

Some of the recently donated meat had a fragment of lead and was thrown out, according to Shimp.

If you wish to donate to the Cape Fear Raptor Center, you can do so here.

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