Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 148, Issue 2, pp 173–177 | Cite as

Lead poisoning and heavy metal exposure of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) from the European Alps

  • Norbert Kenntner
  • Yvon Crettenand
  • Hans-Joachim Fünfstück
  • Martin Janovsky
  • Frieda Tataruch
Original Article

Abstract

Lead poisoning and organ levels of the non-essential heavy metals lead, cadmium and mercury of seven free-ranging golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) from the European Alps, and of one 23-year-old captive golden eagle are reported. All birds were found dead or moribund during the years 2000 and 2001 in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. One golden eagle from Switzerland with extraordinarily high lead residues in its liver and kidney was clearly identified as lethally lead poisoned. Another bird from the same region was found still alive and died in a wildlife rehabilitation center, showing lead residues in its organs known for acute lead poisoning with detrimental physiological effects, such as nervous disorders and the inhibition of the hemoglobine synthesis. Concentrations of cadmium, mercury and lead residues in the organs of the other five free-ranging birds, and in the long-lived captive golden eagle, were low and represent the natural background levels in birds of prey of the terrestrial food web. This is the first published report of lead poisoning in golden eagles from Switzerland. Sources for lead poisoning in golden eagles in the Alpine region are discussed.

Keywords

Aquila chrysaetos Cadmium Golden eagle Lead poisoning Mercury 

References

  1. Beintema N (2001) Lead poisoning in waterbirds—international update report 2000. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands, p 76Google Scholar
  2. Bezzel E, Fünfstück H-J (1995) Alpine Steinadler Aquila chrysaetos durch Bleivergiftung gefährdet? J Ornithol 136:294–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borg K (1975) Viltsjukdomar. LTs Förlag, Helingsborg, Sweden, p 191Google Scholar
  4. Craig TH, Connelly JW, Craig EH, Parker TL (1990) Lead concentrations in golden and bald eagles. Wilson Bull 102:130–133Google Scholar
  5. Fisher IJ, Pain DJ, Thomas VG (2006) A review of lead poisoning from ammunition sources in terrestrial birds. Biol Conserv 131:421–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Franson JC (1996) Interpretation of tissue lead residues in birds other than waterfowl. In: Beyer WN, Heinz GH, Redmoon-Norwod AW (eds) Environmental contaminants in wildlife—interpreting tissue concentrations. CRC, Boca Raton, pp 265–279Google Scholar
  7. Furness RW (1996) Cadmium in birds. In: Beyer WN, Heinz GH, Redmoon-Norwod AW (eds) Environmental contaminants in wildlife—interpreting tissue concentrations. CRC, Boca Raton, pp 389–404Google Scholar
  8. Haller H (1996) Der Steinadler in Graubünden-Langfristige Untersuchungen zur Populationsökologie von Aquila chrysaetos im Zentrum der Alpen. Ornithol Beob 9:1–167Google Scholar
  9. Haller H, Sackl P (1997) Golden eagle. In: Hagemeijer WJM, Blair MJ (eds) The EBBC atlas of European breeding birds: their distribution and abundance. Poyser, London, pp 170–171Google Scholar
  10. Hunt WG, Burnham W, Parish CN, Burnham K, Mutch B, Oaks JL (2006) Bullet fragments in deer remains: implications for lead exposure in scavengers. Wildlife Soc Bull 34:167–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Iwata H, Watanabe M, Kim EY, Gotoh R, Yasunaga G, Tanabe S, Masuda M, Fujita S (2000) Contamination by chlorinated hydrocarbons and lead in Steller’s sea eagle and white-tailed sea eagle from Hokkaido, Japan. In: Ueta M, McGrady MJ (eds) First symposium on Steller’s and white-tailed sea eagles in east Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan, Tokyo, pp 91–106Google Scholar
  12. Kendall RJ, Lacher TE Jr, Bunck C, Daniel B, Driver C, Grue CE, Leighton F, Stansley W (1996) An ecological risk assessment of lead shot exposure in non-waterfowl avian species: upland game birds and raptors. Environ Toxicol Chem 15:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kenntner N, Tataruch F, Krone O (2001) Heavy metals in soft tissue of white-tailed eagles found dead or moribund in Germany and Austria from 1993 to 2000. Environ Toxicol Chem 20:1831–1837PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kenntner N, Oehme G, Heidecke D, Tataruch F (2004) Retrospektive Untersuchung zur Bleiintoxikation und Exposition mit potentziell toxischen Schwermetallen von Seeadlern Haliaeetus albicilla in Deutschland. Vogelwelt 125:63–75Google Scholar
  15. Kim EY, Goto R, Iwata H, Masuda Y, Tanabe S, Fujita S (1999) Preliminary survey of lead poisoning of Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) and white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Hokkaido, Japan. Environ Toxicol Chem 18:448–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kramer JL, Redig PT (1997) Sixteen years of lead poisoning in eagles, 1980–1995: an epizootiologic view. J Raptor Res 31:327–332Google Scholar
  17. Kurosawa N (2000) Lead poisoning in Steller’s and white-tailed sea eagles. In: Ueta M, McGrady MJ (eds) First symposium on Steller’s and white-tailed sea eagles in east Asia, Wild Bird Society of Japan, Tokyo, pp 107–109Google Scholar
  18. Locke LN, Thomas NJ (1996) Lead poisoning of waterfowl and raptors. In: Fairbrother A, Locke LN, Hoff GL (eds) Non-infectious diseases of wildlife. Manson, London, pp 108–117Google Scholar
  19. Miller MJR, Wayland ME, Bortolotti GR (2002) Lead exposure and poisoning in diurnal raptors: a global perspective. In: Yosef R, Miller ML, Pepler D (eds) Raptors in the new millennium. International Birding & Research Center in Eilat, Eilat, pp 224–245Google Scholar
  20. Pain DJ, Sears J, Newton I (1995) Lead concentrations in birds of prey in Britain. Environ Pollut 87:173–180PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Scheuhammer AM, Norris SL (1995) A review of the environmental impacts of lead shotshell and lead fishing weights in Canada. Occasional paper No. 88. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, p 54 Google Scholar
  22. Schweizer Bundesrat (2003) Verordnung über die Jagd und den Schutz wildlebender Säugetiere und Vögel (Jagdverordnung, JSV). 922.01Google Scholar
  23. Thompson DR (1996) Mercury in birds and terrestrial mammals. In: Beyer WN, Heinz GH, Redmoon-Norwod AW (eds) Environmental contaminants in wildlife—interpreting tissue concentrations. CRC, Boca Raton, pp 341–356Google Scholar
  24. Watson J (1997) The golden eagle. Poyser, London, p 374Google Scholar
  25. Wayland M, Neugebauer E, Bollinger T (1999) Concentrations of lead in liver, kidney, and bone of bald and golden eagles. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 37:267–272PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Zechner L, Steineck T, Tataruch F (2005) Bleivergiftung bei einem Steinadler (Aquila chrysaetos) in der Steiermark. Egretta 47:157–158Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norbert Kenntner
    • 1
  • Yvon Crettenand
    • 2
  • Hans-Joachim Fünfstück
    • 3
  • Martin Janovsky
    • 4
    • 5
  • Frieda Tataruch
    • 6
  1. 1.Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife ResearchBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Game, Fishery and Wildlife Service, Canton of ValaisSionSwitzerland
  3. 3.Bavarian Environmental Agency/Bird Protection Station Garmisch-PartenkirchenGarmisch-PartenkirchenGermany
  4. 4.Center for Fish and Wildlife Health, Institute of Animal PathologyUniversity of BerneBerneSwitzerland
  5. 5.Office of the Tyrolean GovernmentInnsbruckAustria
  6. 6.Research Institute of Wildlife EcologyUniversity of Veterinary Medicine ViennaViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations