Lead poisoning has been identified by the US Fish and Wildlife as one of the primary causes of mortality of Golden Eagles. A recent study revealed that population growth rates of golden eagles in the US are being suppressed by lead poisoning. The data collected for this study also revealed higher rates of lead poisoning of eastern golden eagles (those in the Atlantic Flyway) than those in other parts of the country (see https://researchrepository.wvu.edu/etd/4037/). Decades of research and a multitude of studies have concluded that lead fragments in gut piles and animals dispatched with lead ammunition is the primary source of lead poisoning for birds of prey.
In recent years, tools have been developed to address the problem of lead poisoning of eagles. One of the most appealing methods to offset eagle mortalities from lead poisoning is volunteer and incentive based non-lead ammunition distribution programs. These programs are effective because the encourage both hunting and a reduction of lead on the landscape. Several such programs have been implemented in northern Arizona, Grand Teton National Park, eastern Oregon and most recently, in southeast Wyoming. In the eastern US, a non-lead ammunition distribution program was recently initiated in the state of NY (see Projects page). This science-based program is a collaborative effort between the NYDEC, Cornell University, and Conservation Science Global. This effort will be the first of its kind to test if the use of non-lead ammo reduces golden eagle fatalities from wind energy in the eastern US. The EGEWG is currently working toward implementing additional non-lead ammo distribution programs in the wintering range of golden eagles in the eastern U.S.