Officials: Injured bald eagle died from lead poisoning

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says a bald eagle that was found injured had died of lead poisoning.

The bird was found injured on a property in Oglethorpe County earlier in the week and later died after being taken to the University of Georgia for help.

Ben Hill, a licensed falconer, was called to the property to rescue the bird.

"I got him up off the ground and did my physical, just like I would my own bird, just rub my hands throughout the feathers to look for anything or feel for anything in particular. He could spread his wings. I couldn't see blood. I felt the bird all over. It felt fine," he said.

Hill drove the bird to UGA, but he later learned the eagle did not survive.

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After an investigation, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources that a lab determined that the bird had not been shot, though shotgun pellets were found in its body.

"The lab then x-rayed the animal and saw pellets on the image and initially thought it had been shot, but further analysis determined that all of the pellets were in the gizzard, indicating they had been swallowed," an official with the DNR told FOX 5.

Officials believe the pellets came from another animal that had been shot.

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According to Hill, the eagle was likely a part of a breeding pair. The homeowner noted seeing a larger eagle flying in the area.

"The female will hopefully lay fertilized eggs but it's going to take everything that bird has in her to raise them once they're hatched to feed them accordingly because the male helps out a lot during breeding season," Hill said.

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