By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bald eagles are no longer on the brink of extinction in the United States, but deaths from lead poisoning from ingesting hunters’ bullets left in wild animal remains are hampering recovery. of its population, scientists say.
The population increase of the majestic bird recognized as the national symbol of the USA was suppressed by 6.3% for males and 4.2% for females, according to a study by researchers at the Department of Public and Ecosystem Health at Cornell University, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management this week.
“(lead) ingestion mortalities have reduced the long-term growth rate and resilience of bald eagles in the northeastern United States over the past three decades,” the study said.
Lead is found in organs left in the wild by hunters who cut up the dead animals, leaving the contaminated remains, which end up being scavenged by eagles.
Once threatened by the use of the insecticide DDT to help control disease during World War II, bald eagle (or bald eagle) populations recovered enough that the species was removed from the National Threatened List. extinction in 2021.
But less robust growth rates mean the eagle population may be more vulnerable to other challenges, such as natural disasters or the spread of disease, Cornell researchers said.
Political conflicts over lead bullets divided Americans and reached the White House. President Barack Obama’s Fish and Wildlife Service issued a ban on lead ammunition to protect wildlife in January 2017, the day before the inauguration of new President Donald Trump.
Less than two months later, on his first day as Trump’s Home Secretary, Ryan Zinke overturned the ban to the applause of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
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