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Lead poisoning impacting Pennsylvania birds

VIDEO: Lead poisoning impacting...

From Great Horned Owls to fallen falcons, the Carbon County Environmental Education Center takes in nearly 1,000 injured animals per year.

Chief naturalist Susan Gallagher says about half make it. Sadly a recent bald eagle didn't.

"Head down, hackle feathers in the back were up. Bird was pretty much non responsive," Gallagher explained.

The eagle was brought in on Thursday after being found near the Francis E. Walter Dam in White Haven.

It died Tuesday of lead poisoning. Gallagher said it's the most severe case she's ever seen.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission says lead poisoning has resulted in major die-offs in waterfowl and many other species of birds. Including eight bald eagles this year.

Gallagher doesn't know how this bird was poisoned but says this can be a teaching moment.

"We don't want to sound accusatory and we don't want to say hunters are to blame for these problems. Hunters have been ardent conservationists for our country," she explained.

But they do shoot lead bullets. Gallagher says fragments of which, when ingested can and often do cause lead poisoning in birds.She would like to see outdoor sportsman switch to non lead ammo and fishing tackle.

Gun shops 69 News spoke with said non lead ammo isn't readily available but can be ordered. However it can also be 20-30 percent more expensive.

One shop owner said there isn't a big demand for it.

Pennsylvania's bald eagle population has grown from three nesting pairs in the 1980s to around 300 today.

Showing there is hope despite this tragic event.

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