American morale took a blow on Friday when a bald eagle, the most patriotic U.S. symbol, was struck and killed by a vehicle on the side of a Wisconsin highway.
In a statement addressing the mournful loss of the bird, the WI Vilas County Sheriff’s Office said, “We would like to remind you that eagles are commonly feeding alongside the highways this time of year. We ask that you please use caution and remember that eagles need extra time and space to gain flight.”
On average, a bald eagle’s wingspan reaches nearly seven feet across. So any of the bird’s last-ditch effort to evade the collision would become compromised if the vehicle that struck it was moving quickly enough.
According to USA Today, the state’s Department of Natural Resources claimed the bald eagle’s carcass after it was located. The animal had been originally located on the side of a St. Germain highway.
Initially following the incident, local authorities shared an image of the dead bird to social media. In a post, they wrote, “Our intention of posting this picture is not to disrespect what the bald eagle represents or means to anyone, rather bring attention to this very important issue in Northwoods.”
The tragic loss of the bald eagle comes, in part, as a result of the bird’s feeding habits. The outlet reports bald eagles prey mostly on fish. But, they’re also “opportunistic.” As such, the bald eagle will prey on animals killed on and near roadways.
Nearly Half of Bald Eagles Suffer From Lead Exposure
Often, we like to think humans are the superior species. However, we’re more often the cause of the demise of our planet’s most magnificent creatures, not to mention the planet itself. That said, motorists pose just one danger to the American population of bald eagles.
In addition to collisions with automobiles, nearly half of the U.S.’s bald eagles suffer from harmful exposure to lead. How so?
A recent study proposes that the raptors are ingesting lead from ammunition and fishing tackle linked to their prey. Altogether, the study has revealed that 46% of the American bird population has suffered from exposure. Even worse, the majority of the birds encountered lead on multiple occasions.
The new study reports lead could be found in birds sourced from 38 of the 50 U.S. states.
One of the study’s co-authors, Vince Slabe, revealed just how dire the situation is for the American icon. Slabe said just one “lead fragment the size of the end of a pin is large enough to cause mortality in an eagle.”
As both a conservationist and a hunter, Slabe encourages hunters to make the switch to non-lead ammo. He instead favors copper bullets and the like.