Upcoming Event: Bald Eagle Watch!

Please join New Mexico Wildlife Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for our annual bald eagle count at Abiquiu Lake on January 3, 2015.

Eagle Watch 2015

From our friends at USACE:

National Wildlife Federation officials have asked that participants in each state count eagles along standard routes to provide data trends. The basic objectives of the survey are to index the total wintering Bald Eagle population in the lower 48 states, to determine eagle distribution during a standardized survey period, and to identify previously unrecognized areas of important winter habitat.

The annual midwinter survey represents a unique source of long-term, baseline data. Unlike nesting surveys, it provides information on both breeding and non-breeding segments of the population at a potentially limiting time of year. The count has become a national tradition since 1984, and is an annual event at Abiquiu Lake. In addition to providing information on eagle trends, distribution, and habitat, the count has helped to create public interest in the conservation of our national symbol, the Bald Eagle.

Volunteers are asked to dress warmly and bring binoculars, notepads, and drinking water. Hot coffee and snacks will be available.

Bald eagles are a common and welcome sight at Abiquiu Lake during the winter. Unfortunately last year, NMWC cared for two bald eagles, both of which died from lead poisoning. In 2009 27 of 40 bald eagles treated in Iowa rehabilitation centers had toxic levels of lead in their blood. Where does this lead come from? Lead in ammunition and fishing gear. While federal law banned lead shot for hunting waterfowl in 1991, lead in ammunition for hunting upland birds, mammal species like deer, elk, wild pig, sheep, and coyotes distribute millions of pounds of lead into the environment every year.  Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that 4,382 tons of lead fishing sinkers are sold every year in the U.S.

When lead bullets enter an animal’s body they fragment. These fragments are scattered along the wound channel and often are found in abundance in its organs. A deer shot with lead bullets and not recovered is a poisoning machine. Gut piles left by hunters are probably a more pervasive source of lead poisoning. In a study conducted in the state of Washington, 90% of offal piles showed lead fragments and 94% of deer carcasses contained fragments. It takes very little lead to kill a bald eagle.

NMWC resident bald eagle, Maxwell, enjoying a lead-free fish
NMWC resident Bald Eagle, Maxwell, enjoying a lead-free fish

There are alternatives to lead ammunition and lead weights for fishing. Join us at the Bald Eagle Watch and learn about these birds and why they are worth protecting!

Christy and Katherine

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