WAYNESBORO, Va. -- State wildlife officials are investigating the deaths of four bald eagles on the Eastern Shore.
A volunteer brought the dead eagles to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, along with a surviving immature bald eagle, on Saturday.
The wildlife center says it is treating the immature eagle, which is likely a male. According to the center's website, tests showed metal particles in teh bird's digestive tract. A blood test showed the eagle had elevated levels of lead, but not at a critical level, and doctors began chelation therapy on the bird.
According to the center, since treatment began last weekend, the eagle's condition has improved. Treatment has included a tube-feeding therapy to help the metal fragments move more quickly through the eagle's digestive tract, preventing further leaching of the lead.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia says the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Law Enforcement is investigating the deaths of the other eagles.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, ingesting lead shot from firearms is a threat to several types of scavenger birds, including eagles. Although lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting in 1991, its use for hunting and shooting sports remains widespread, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
"Ingested lead pellets from shotgun shells have been a common source of lead poisoning in birds. Other sources include lead fishing sinkers, mine wastes, paint chips, bullets and other swallowed lead objects," according to the USGS website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.