Lead is a toxic heavy metal that can be lethal to all animals. High levels can cause seizures, coma, and sometimes death. Even low levels in children cause developmental delays that persist into adulthood, and the Center for Disease Control states that there is "no safe blood level."

X-ray of a lead poisoned bald eagle showing lead fragments (bright white) from ingested prey

Because an estimated one million ducks and geese were lost annually from accidentally ingested lead hunting ammunition, the federal government instituted a national ban on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1991. However, lead is still routinely used in other types of ammunition and fishing tackle, and lead poisoning is still seen in wild birds, particularly bald eagles and Canada geese. Birds can pick up lead from the environment or in carcasses that have been shot with lead ammunition. With NYSDEC biologist Kevin Hynes, we tested tissue samples from almost 300 New York bald eagle mortalities that he examined over a 20 year period. Although 17% of the eagles that we examined died from lead poisoning and overall 83% had some exposure to lead, the data set was taken from a non-random sample of wild NY eagles and therefore these percentages do not necessarily reflect the true unknown impact on lead on the larger wild population of eagles.

Raw veterinary data sourced from two New York-based providers, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Animal Health Diagnostic Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University are not posted. These records are available upon request by contacting the Wildlife Health Unit in the Bureau of Wildlife at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Wildlife Health Unit may be contacted by calling (518) 478-2203, (518) 478-3034, or by emailing wildlife@dec.ny.gov and asking for a response from the Wildlife Health Unit.

Raw veterinary data sourced from collaborating providers include:

Avian Haven: https://doi.org/10.7298/qg9d-9p17 
Tufts University: https://doi.org/10.7298/6by1-j636 
University of New Hampshire: https://doi.org/10.7298/m8yz-1r93 
Wildlife Health Center of Virginia: https://doi.org/10.7298/hyyc-ws65 
National Wildlife Health Center: https://doi.org/10.7298/jn80-e080 

Standardized and final veterinary data sourced from two New York-based providers, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Animal Health Diagnostic Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University are not posted. These records are available upon request by contacting the Wildlife Health Unit in the Bureau of Wildlife at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Wildlife Health Unit may be contacted by calling (518) 478-2203, (518) 478-3034, or by emailing wildlife@dec.ny.gov and asking for a response from the Wildlife Health Unit.

Standardized and final veterinary data sourced from collaborating providers are located here:

https://doi.org/10.7298/3p9p-j249

We meshed the veterinary data into the context of the wild population of eagles via demographic (time series) data. 

Time series data include:

https://doi.org/10.7298/wr25-4m46