Last year, one of his first acts on the job, Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reversed one of President Obama’s last acts on the job, which was banning lead ammo and fishing tackle on lands regulated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (story). This decision may have far-reaching impacts for wildlife, notably birds of prey. Ingesting lead can do severe damage to wildlife, and can climb up through food webs.
Lori Paras is an expert in treating raptors afflicted with lead poisoning, and on April 11, I was allowed to visit the Santa Fe Raptor Center facility to witness first-hand what lead poisoning can do to bald eagles. Though the bald eagle is a success story for the Endangered Species Act, having recovered enough to be removed from the Endangered Species List, a policy decision that occurred just over a year ago may undo some of that success, as Lori has seen a number of birds afflicted already.
Raptors are important predators, and their role as predators is incredibly important to ecosystem function, and even to human health (raptors prey upon rodents and other species known to transmit diseases). We here at Cascade Conservation are excited to help the Santa Fe Raptor Center continue their work in preserving raptor populations in New Mexico, and the ecosystems which raptors help to regulate.