Bald eagle suffering from severe lead poisoning

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(CNN) – Wildlife workers in Oregon are trying to beat the odds, and save a bald eagle suffering from severe lead poisoning.

Found near Eltopia, Oregon, the eagle tested at 622 micrograms of lead per deciliter, more than 30 times the amount of what’s considered toxic.

It’s the most amount of lead that Blue Mountain wildlife director Lynn Tompkins has tested in an eagle and she considers his chances of survival to be very slim.

Lynn Tompkins, Director, Blue Mountain Wildlife said, “We’re treating him three times a day. Normally we try twice a day, but his lead is so high that it’s kind of like we have nothing to lose.”

Tompkins believes the most likely source for the lead toxicity is gun ammunition. The eagle likely ate the meat of an animal already poisoned.

Hunters sometimes use lead ammo to shoot game animals and kill animals considered pests, but lead ammo can also be dangerous to people if we eat meat from infected animals.

The centers for disease control and prevention considers five micrograms per deciliter the reference level for public health actions to be taken.

Tompkins said, “The other thing to remember is that people that hunt with lead if you eat that game meat, you’re eating the lead and you’re feeding it to your family. There’s no safe level of lead.”

Lynn Tompkins said a fix to this is for hunters to switch to non-lead ammunition, but that measure is likely too late for this bald eagle, “We’ve never successfully treated a bird with more than 300 micrograms per deciliter of lead and his is twice that. But we’re going to try because that’s what we do.”

Officials plan to continue to treat this bird three times a day until it recovers or dies. That is the third bald eagle brought to the wildlife center this year because of lead exposure.

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