DNR promotes switch away from lead bullets to prevent eagle poisoningby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The state Department of Natural Resources is working with outdoor retailer Cabelas in an effort to persuade deer hunters to use copper ammunition instead of lead.
DNR nongame wildlife supervisor Carrol Henderson said bald eagles eat the remains of deer left when hunters field dress the animals, adding that lead bullet fragments poison the eagles.
About 30 cases of bald eagle lead poisoning are reported each year, but Henderson said it's likely many more die.
"We could easily be losing over a hundred eagles a year to this," he said. "So we just need to provide hunters with the information about making good choices so they have better ammo for their hunting experience, but also nontoxic ammo that will not have follow through consequences for our national bird."
Henderson explained how the bald eagles are poisoned. "When you get anywhere from 150,000 too 200,000 deer gut piles out in the woods after a successful deer season, that represents a lot of free forage for these birds of prey," he said. "And if there are tiny lead fragments in those it does not take very much lead to kill that eagle."
Copper bullets are about twice as expensive as lead ammunition. The cost prevents many hunters from making the switch.
Bald eagles will be on display Saturday at the Cabelas store in Rogers as part of an effort to educate hunters.