Wildlife group see rise in Bay area bald eagles injuries, deaths

By Katie Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, February 08, 2018, 11:43 AM EST

A Bay area wildlife group is seeing a recent spike in bald eagle injuries and deaths, the latest near ALT 19 in Palm Harbor on Feb. 7.

  • Eagle that died Feb. 7 believed to have lead poisoning
  • Bald eagles get lead poisoning from hunters' bullets
  • Seen an injured bald eagle? Contact FWC

That eagle was located in distress by a deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Nancy Murrah with Tampa Bay Raptor Rescue was with members of the group who tried to help get the eagle to safety.

"[The eagle] made no attempt to grab me, no attempt to bite me when we were treating him. That's never a good sign," Murrah said.

The eagle died on the way to a vet. He was the third Murrah's group tried to rescue just this week, and none of the others survived.

Murrah believes the eagle that died Tuesday had lead poisoning.

"The way that a bird gets lead poisoning is from hunter's hunting with lead bullets, who clean their kill in the field and leave scrap piles," Murrah explained. "So they leave the parts of the animal they don't want, and in those parts there are lead bullets left."

She said other contributing factors to eagle deaths and injuries might be territorial fights with other birds, power line contact and car strikes.

"Every single bird that we lose hurts," Murrah said. "We try our best with every animal that is within our care."

Murrah went on to say eagles are currently in the middle of breeding season. She encourages everyone to be careful, and call FWC or your local wildlife organization if you see one of the beloved birds in danger or distress.