From: Katherine Allard



Only 14 years after removing the bald eagle from the endangered species list, the symbolic bird already has another enemy. Lead bullets used in hunting rifles are toxic to bald eagles. The most commonly used material in hunting ammunition is lead. According to the Raptor Center of Minnesota, upon use, the lead in each bullet fractures into hundreds of sections upon impact with the target, and can spread up to 18 inches from the target. When hunting for food, eagles ingest the remnants of lead. The Raptor Center admits over 150 injured and ill bald eagles every year, of which 30 percent have documented lead poisoning. Lead poisoning causes intense brain and nerve damage disrupting an eagle’s ability to fly, and eventually can kill them. 

This has an easy fix, but like with many issues, we find ourselves unwilling to change our habits in order to protect this influential species. There are many types of ammunition beyond lead, including steel, copper, and brass. Each ammunition provides the same results, but manufacturers continue to spread the myth that “lead shoots better.”

Another argument made is that “non-toxic ammunition costs more.” This is true, but upon looking at prices in Scheels, the difference tends to be around $5 at most. The state of Minnesota has already banned the use of lead in waterfowl hunting because of these effects. However, the DNR turned down a petition to ban the use of lead ammunition for all hunting in 2019. 

You can take part in fixing this problem. Reach out to your elected and non-elected officials. If you are a hunter, choose to use non-toxic ammunition, and cover up remains from your hunt by burying it or using rocks. Please educate those around you. Lead is not our only option.