Steller’s Sea Eagle Found Dead in Hokkaido; Lead Poisoning Likely Cause

The Yomiuri Shimbun

SAPPORO — A Steller’s sea eagle, which was found dead in Ashoro, Hokkaido, is believed to have died from lead poisoning, according to the Hokkaido Regional Environment Office of the Environment Ministry.

The body of the bird, which is of a species designated as a national natural treasure, was found in a tuft of grass, the office said.

Three lead rifle bullet fragments up to one centimeter in diameter were found in the bird’s stomach. The possession and use of lead rifle bullets for hunting large animals is prohibited in Hokkaido under the local ordinance and the Wildlife Protection, Control, and Hunting Management Law.

The Steller’s sea eagle appears to have eaten from a deer that had been shot with a lead bullet and abandoned. The eagle may have eaten bullet fragments that remained inside the deer.