Arkansas Bald Eagle Goes Blind From Lead Poisoning

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EL PASO, Ark. (KTHV)- Negligent hunters could be harming more than their prey. It happens every year during hunting season, the remains of deer carcasses causing lead poisoning in other animals.

Some people are avid bird watchers but Rodney Paul is what some would call a bird doctor.

“These are our education birds. We take them around the state and do education with these guys,” said Rodney Paul, owner of Raptor Rehab of Central Arkansas in El Paso as he showed THV 11 some of the birds he has nursed back to health.

“Most of the injuries we see here are birds struck by cars. They will fly into buildings. That type of injury. They’ll break wings, break legs, head injuries, a lot of broken bones,” said Paul.

Paul works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service fixing birds who can’t fix themselves but recently, he came across a case he’s not sure he can help. In a pet carrier in his laundry room rests a beautiful full grown bald eagle who has trouble flying not because of a broken wing but because she is blind.

“Her pupils are dilated and fixed. There is no reaction to her pupils and the big thing was her not being able to find her own food,” said Paul. “We believe the blindness is a result of the lead poisoning.”

Lead poisoning is pretty common this time of year Paul says. Hunters harvesting deer meat in the woods usually leave the remains behind. Birds of prey like vultures and eagles feast on what is left and can easily contract lead poisoning.

Read more on this story from our partners at KTHV.


  • Ron Bristow

    You people are despicable! The object of news is to report the facts, not further someone’s political agenda! The bullet that kills an animal would have to stay in the animal for a period of weeks for the animal to be poisoned by the lead in the bullet, that is if the bullet was the size of a plum! Animals that are wounded and get away from the hunters die of either blood loss or by natural predators who find them wounded and unable to escape, they don’t live long enough to get lead poisoning. In either case the blood stops flowing when the animal dies so any chance of lead poisoning is impossible! I know for a fact you can leave a deer carcass in the woods near dark and by daylight it is stripped and pulled apart by predators! There is no incubation period for poisoning by the lead in the bullet to start! You either have some of the most gullible reporters on staff, or they are too lazy to do a little research and common sense thinking! Either way it results in sloppy and inaccurate reporting!

    • larry vaughn

      Ron Bristow,,,,,No offense,,,Don’t guess you are a hunter..Depending on the weapon, it leaves lead in the animal. Double 0 buckshot for deer, they have 9 lead pellets..# 6 for squirrel a lot more than 9 and a lot smaller. Now this writer states that animals are field dressed and parts left on the ground. Those predators that you talk of some are birds like the eagle. If the hunter doesn’t look for any lead left in these animal parts then the lead is eaten by said predators, and I don’t know how long it would take for lead poisoning to set in. Most shots that kill this animal are made to the guts. That sir is how the lead gets eaten.

  • Johnny Pittman

    Is this a paid commercial?

    Someone finds a blind bird and says it lead poisoning? The “bird expert” says he “believes” its lead poisoning. Boy, that’s very convincing! Very scientific.

    Oh and Larry…no offense but “don’t guess” you’re a hunter either. You use buckshot as an example when an extremely small percentage of the population in Arkansas use buckshot to hunt anything. It substantially weakens your argument. The scenario you use is extremely far fetched.

    5 News should be ashamed. This is not news, its propaganda.

  • Brent Reaves

    Did the eagle test positive for lead? How many buzzards are observed every year from eating lead tainted carcasses? This article is about as accurate as anything else I’ve seen on CBS.

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