Golden eagle death blamed on lead ammunition

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Mt. (KIFI/KIDK) - After a lab necropsy, Yellowstone National Park officials report a golden eagle, found dead on December 6 was killed by lead poisoning.

The eagle was found near Phantom Lake in the northern section of the park.  The necropsy found extremely high levels of toxicity, well over lethal levels.

The female eagle was the first golden eagle Yellowstone had tagged with a radio transmitter.  It was part of a study to understand the productivity, movements, survival, and cause of death of the raptor.  

Data collected from the transmitter revealed the eagle was active in a hunting area north of the park before it died. Hunter-provided carrion is an important food resource for eagles and other scavengers. Park officials said the eagle likely ate carrion that contained lead fragments. 

Lead is an environmental toxin that is well known for its capability to impact wildlife.  

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service have promoted a voluntary program aimed at encouraging hunters to voluntarily use non-lead ammunition.  

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