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Energy & Environment

Eagle Numbers Rise But Lead Causing Sick Birds


Wisconsin's eagle population is growing, but a Northwoods animal rehab owner says hunters and fishers can do more to help preserve the population. The DNR findings are a record amount of birds since the surveys began 43 years ago.

The DNR reported this week aerial surveys found 1,465 occupied bald eagle nests this year, 121 more than were found two years ago. Mark Naniot from Wild Instincts Rehab near Rhinelander says there's a real danger from hunting and fishing leftovers...

"....the biggest thing we tell people is get the lead out of their hunting and fishing equipment. That's the highest cause for admissions right now. We had six eagles in the last six weeks with lead poisoning. It's a very tedious process trying to get them through that.The habitat is very fragile...you look at the contamination of the waters. One of the biggest things we see is lead poisoning from lead shot, fishing equipment,things like that. Of course, being hit by cars. With the deer population fairly high, the eagles come down to feed on road kills...."

Naniot also says maintaining and improving habitat is critical. He says eagles need clean water and they often ingest lead either from hunting or fishing. He says eagles get hurt by vehicles while they're feeding on carcasses on the highway.

The DNR found Vilas County, with 162 nests, and Oneida County, with 143, had the highest number of occupied eagle nests. These two counties represent most of the Northern Highland Ecological Landscape, which has one of the highest concentrations of lakes in the world. Bald eagles usually build their nests in tall trees near lakes and streams.

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