There are a multitude of threats to bald and golden eagles on the landscape and recent management efforts are focused on reducing anthropogenic causes of death in these species (1,2,3). Lead poisoning is a leading cause of mortality in eagles and studies have shown that lead concentrations spike in the blood and tissue of eagles during and directly following hunting seasons (3,4). Furthermore, recent research shows that lead poisoning is stunting population growth rates of bald and golden eagles at a nationwide scale (3,5). For this research project, we will formally test the efficacy of hunters voluntarily using non-lead ammunition through a rebate program that ultimately aims to reduce eagle fatalities in New York (6,7).

This video shows an example of bald and golden eagles scavenging on hunter harvested elk in Montana.

The Effort

We will focus our ammunition rebate where an abundance of eagles overlaps with sufficient deer harvest. Our approach is straightforward. First, we are reaching out to hunters with Deer Management Permits in these areas. Those hunters will be eligible for a rebate of up to $60 for 1 box of factory loaded non-lead ammo or a box of non-lead bullets. By accepting the rebate for non-lead ammunition, each hunter is agreeing to participate in the study. The only requirement of participation is to take a brief survey prior to and after the hunting season.

Measuring Impact

We will gauge the success of our non-lead rebate program by estimating the reduction in bald and golden eagle deaths. Our survey questions will focus on each hunter’s use of non-lead ammunition, whether they were successful in harvesting a deer, and whether they would consider participating in a similar program in the future. After the end of the 2023 hunting season, we will estimate the number of deer harvested with non-lead that would have otherwise been harvested with lead. From there, we can estimate the reduction in the number of eagle deaths within our target area using an advanced modeling approach (7).


The peer-reviewed scientific and publicly available data resulting from this project will broaden our general understanding of applied techniques to reduce eagle deaths.

Hunting in North America has a long and proven history of conservation success. This effort is unique in that hunters have the ability to help sustain populations of non-hunted species. If this program is successful, New York could stand as a model for other states in implementing a voluntary non-lead ammunition rebate program as a successful form of reducing one of the many threats to eagles.
Hunters for Eagle Conservation is a program of Conservation Science Global, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 2016 to advance conservation and management of our natural resources through science and education.