EL PASO, Ark. (KTHV)- Negligent hunters could be harming more than their prey. It happens every year during hunting season, the remains of deer carcasses causing lead poisoning in other animals.
Some people are avid bird watchers but Rodney Paul is what some would call a bird doctor.
"These are our education birds. We take them around the state and do education with these guys," said Rodney Paul, owner of Raptor Rehab of Central Arkansas in El Paso as he showed THV 11 some of the birds he has nursed back to health.
"Most of the injuries we see here are birds struck by cars. They will fly into buildings. That type of injury. They'll break wings, break legs, head injuries, a lot of broken bones," said Paul.
Paul works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service fixing birds who can't fix themselves but recently, he came across a case he's not sure he can help. In a pet carrier in his laundry room rests a beautiful full grown bald eagle who has trouble flying not because of a broken wing but because she is blind.
"Her pupils are dilated and fixed. There is no reaction to her pupils and the big thing was her not being able to find her own food," said Paul. "We believe the blindness is a result of the lead poisoning."
Lead poisoning is pretty common this time of year Paul says. Hunters harvesting deer meat in the woods usually leave the remains behind. Birds of prey like vultures and eagles feast on what is left and can easily contract lead poisoning.
"We lost an immature bald eagle this past January to lead poisoning," said Paul.
Paul says hunters should bury the remains so bald eagles like this one aren't tempted to eat them leaving them sick or dead.
"This is one of those things, time will tell. We don't know if it will recover from it or not. We sure hope it does," said Paul.
Paul said the bald eagle has been treated for lead poisoning and they hope the blindness is only temporary. If the eagle regains her sight, she can be released into the wild again. If not, they may be forced to put her down.