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WSB: Seeking bullets lethal to small mammals, not scavengers

Cara J

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At MPG Ranch, a conservation ranch in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, most of the golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) wintering on the property have elevated concentrations of lead in their blood. Much of that probably came from lead ammunition used to hunt big game, biologists figured. If a deer or elk is shot but the hunter doesn’t recover the animal, or if bullet fragments remain in a gut pile left behind, scavengers that feed on the carcass or gut pile can ingest the lead, leading to possible health impacts and sometimes death. Lots of studies had already looked at big-game hunting and lead poisoning. But what about the shooting of squirrels, prairie dogs and other small mammals? These animals are hunted recreationally and shot by farmers as pests, but state laws don’t require their carcasses to be removed, as they do for big game. “We were curious if that was possibly a vector for raptors accumulating lead,” said Michael McTee, an environmental scientist at MPG Ranch, where biologists from Raptor View Research Institute, a nonprofit raptor research organization based in Missoula, found 89 percent of the golden eagles on the property had elevated lead concentrations. McTee and his team set out to [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/wsb-seeking-bullets-lethal-to-small-mammals-not-scavengers/

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