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Hunter: Saving eagles worth switch to non-lead ammunition

Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 21, 2018

To save eagles, some hunters have stopped using lead ammunition. 

The Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery has seen an increase in the amount of eagles and other birds coming in with lead poisoning.

So far this year, nine eagles have been treated at the center; only three remain alive after intense treatments.

This sights of this iconic bird being poisoned by lead-based ammo has some hunters thinking twice before buying lead.

Kent Walton is an avid hunter who lives in Papillion, Nebraska. He said he's been hunting his whole life and will not buy lead-based ammo because of its affects on these birds.

"I made the switch to non-toxic shot, steel, tungsten, bismuth and those types of things, and that's what I use now in the field," he said.

Many hunters said they chose lead because it's cheaper, and because they believe it makes their shot more accurate. Walton disagrees: "I don't see any difference in performance."

This mission tugs at Walton's heartstrings because he also helps bring birds into Raptor Recovery when they are sick or injured. 

"It's not pretty," he said. "It's very sick, and it takes a lot to get them back on their feet, if you can."

Walton hopes other hunters will take his lead.

"If you love to see the eagles soaring overhead and you love the fact they are coming back to Nebraska, there's more and more nests here then there were last year," he said. "That's why you should care: It's bringing them back and keeping them from getting that lead positioning."