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Hunters Asked To Use Copper Bullets, Protect Bald Eagles

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The ammunition deer hunters choose could have an impact on the overall health of the eagles. Now, there’s a push to get hunters to switch to copper bullets.

As a veterinarian at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, Patrick Redig sees that lead bullets take down much more than deer. Bald Eagles eat the gut piles left behind by hunters. The result is that about 25 percent of the birds brought in need to be put down.

“It takes a very minute amount of lead — less than half an aspirin — to poison an eagle,” said Redig. “These eagles that come in that are dying of lead poisoning are in extreme state of toxicity. They’re seizing, convulsing, going through an agonizing death.”

Redig sees an easy fix if hunters switch to copper bullets.

There are a couple reasons why copper bullets aren’t yet the norm: They’re a more expensive than lead bullets and there’s also tradition.

Lead bullets still dominate the shelves, but copper ammunition is slowly taking up more room. It’s a shift in tradition as hunters consider all wildlife and not just the deer.

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