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Second bald eagle dies of lead poisoning at Raptor Center

The center has treated several other eagles for lead poisoning recently.

The University of Minnesota Raptor Center has lost a second bald eagle to lead poisoning.

Reports say the bird-rescue facility euthanized the eagle on Thursday.

"The blood lead level came out higher than our screening tests can record, which is a definite sign of lead toxicity," staff told MPR, which noted the bird was suffering from mild tremors and depression, and was ultimately "too sick to leave." 

The outlet says the eagle, which was brought in from a rescue center in Duluth, is the second to die of lead poisoning at the Raptor Center this hunting season.

According to the Associated Press, the center has treated another five eagles "in which lead was a secondary problem" this season. 

WCCO says the eagle is believed to have gotten sick from eating "the field remains of a deer that had been shot with a lead bullet" – a fairly common occurrence as many hunters still use lead shot.

The station notes that lead ammunition is a controversial topic in hunting, with tests showing that the "fine dust of lead fragments" can taint carcass meat, posing a threat to scavenging animals and even humans. 

Despite the loss of the eagle, the mission of the Raptor Center continues, and staff ended the week with some good news concerning a wounded owl:

About lead poisoning

Lead is a naturally occurring but highly toxic metal, with the World Health Organization saying there is "no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe."

It can be found in old paint and water pipes among many other sources, and can have adverse effects on the brain and nervous system, especially in young children. 

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