Friday, Dec 13, 2013
Deer Hunting With Lead Bullets May Endanger Bald Eagles
MARION -- Cooler temperatures means people will be reaching for their jackets and hunters will be reaching for their bows and guns. But this season hunters are being urged to consider swapping lead bullets for other ammunition.
For years hunters have been banned from non-toxic bullets when hunting waterfowl. That's because wildlife officials say lead bullets can fragment when they hit their target.
"I mostly hunt ducks and geese, which you cannot use lead shots for, for the purpose of lead poisoning," says Marion resident Brandon Pritchett.
But that law doesn't extend to deer. Iowa State University researches have now discovered bald eagles are in danger of lead poisoning from deer. They say eagles eat the carcasses and organs that are left over, which expose them to the toxic metal.
"Say you just shoot a deer in the wrong spot and wound it and the bullet stays in there, it might, over time, cause lead poisoning in that live animal. And if somebody else is to kill it, they would get lead poisoning as a result," says Pritchett.
Hunters say they would consider switching to copper or alloy ammunition, but it's hard to find and could be more expensive.
"I don't know of any places locally that do, but I'm sure you can get on the internet and order them," says Pritchett.
"At this point, I would use lead," says hunter Myron Evrard. "I don't know of any other thing available on the market. Lead being easier on the barrel."
Evrard and Pritchett have been hunting deer and small game for years and neither are sure hunters will be too eager to make the change. And while both hunters know first-hand what works best for hunting, they also care about what happens to the bald eagle.
"I know they've been endangered in the past and they are our national bird, so we should protect them every way we can," says Pritchett.
"My preference is to go to something safer that's both barrel compatible or barrel friendly, I should say, and that's safe to the environment," explains Evrard.
The hunters say any animal that feeds on dead deer organs are also at risk of being exposed to lead poison, including pets.
Wind: 12 MPH
Humidity: 48 %