Researchers meeting to discuss link between lead ammunition and dying bald eagles


Researchers found 168 dead bald eagles in the upper Mississippi area for a lead exposure study. (Contributed photo)
Researchers found 168 dead bald eagles in the upper Mississippi area for a lead exposure study. (Contributed photo)

Officials in the Upper Mississippi River U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge will meet today in Prairie du Chien, Wis., to discuss recent findings which link dying bald eagles and lead ammunition.

Beginning in 2011, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists Ed Britton, Sarah Warner, Mike Coffey and Drew Becker collected dead bald eagles from Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. After testing the livers of 168 dead birds, they found that 48 percent came back with detectable lead concentrations. 21 percent had lethal amounts of lead, indicating lead poisoning.

The lead most likely came from the carcasses of wild game left behind by hunters using lead ammunition. According to a fact sheet by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, eagles frequently scavenge deer and pheasant carcasses, many of which contain lead fragments left behind by hunters who cleaned the carcasses on-site and left behind gut piles which may contain lead fragments. High amounts of lead can be lethal, and non-lethal exposure can cause vision and respiratory problems, leading to secondary trauma.

Lead is currently the most popular material used in shotgun ammunition because it is dense, inexpensive, readily available and soft enough not to damage vintage gun barrels, a common problem with steel ammunition. Fortunately, companies in the hunting and shooting industry have already created several non-toxic alternatives, including Tungsten-Matrix, which has nearly the same density and softness as lead, key factors hunters look for when choosing ammunition.

The meeting today in Prairie du Chien is part of a series of information sessions being held in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Quad Cities over the course of two weeks. For more information on these meetings and the effects of lead on bald eagles, visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Iowa’s Deer Harvest Declined for Eighth Straight Year


Photo by Rich Herrmann; Flickr
Photo by Rich Herrmann; Flickr

For the first time since the mid-1990’s, the DNR reported that Iowa’s deer harvest has dropped below 100,000. In 2013, hunters reported 99,406 deer.

This indicates a positive response from hunters when asked to reduce the size of the herd, but now the DNR is encouraging hunters to work with landowners and base their harvest on local herd conditions.

Deer hunting provides an economic impact of almost $214 million, paying more than $15 million in federal taxes and nearly $15 million in state taxes. It also supports 2,800 jobs and provides more than $67 million in earnings.

Third case of CWD in Iowa


Photo by w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines), Flickr.
Photo by w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines), Flickr.

A third deer in Iowa has tested positive for chronic wasting diseases (CWD) — a fatal disease affecting members of the deer family.

The third positive case of CWD was found in the same Davis County hunting preserve as the first two cases.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is collecting and testing deer samples around the hunting facility. They hope to collect 300 samples.

Read more here.

Another positive test for CWD in Iowa


Photo by JaVieR PG, Flickr.
Photo by JaVieR PG, Flickr.

A second deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at the same Davis County hunting preserve where the first deer tested positive.

The hunting preserve has been providing test samples to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for every deer shot at the facility.

Read more about the latest positive test here.

For more information on CWD, check out some of our previous posts: 1, 2.

CWD’s impact on Iowa


Photo by James Preston, Flickr.
Photo by James Preston, Flickr.

A couple weeks ago, Iowa Public Radio explored the impact of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Iowa.

During the radio segment you will hear from a wildlife biologist, the wildlife management supervisor of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and Iowa state Senator Dick Dearden.

Although they explore the general impact of CWD, there’s a particular focus on the relationship between CWD and hunting in Iowa.

The radio segment is available here.

Check out some of our CWD coverage here

On the Radio: Chronic wasting disease could reach Iowa’s deer


Photo by brokinhrt2, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s segment discusses Chronic wasting disease – a deadly neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose.

A deadly disease that affects deer, elk and moose could soon make its way to Iowa.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

Deer harvest reduced for sixth consecutive year


Photo by BugDNA, Flickr.

Iowa hunters reported harvesting 121,407 deer during the 2011-2012 hunting seasons – a 4.5 percent drop from the 127,094 deer harvested in 2010 – 2011. Since 2006, Iowa’s deer population has dropped by 30 percent.

“Deer numbers in many areas are near or below the department’s objective,” said Dale Garner, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Bureau. “We are hearing complaints from hunters that they are not seeing the number of deer that they had in the past and some are voicing their concerns that the herd reduction may have gone too far.”

This spring, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources intends to review the population surveys and take appropriate action.

For more information, read the full DNR news release.