WAYNESBORO, Va. (AP) — Hunters using lead ammunition are posing real harm to bald eagles.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has admitted its 43rd bald eagle patient of the year, a grim record for single-year admissions during the center’s 35-year history.

Officials say nearly 70 percent of the eagles admitted had measurable amounts of lead in their blood. Six had lead levels too high for the center’s in-house lead analyzer to measure.

Bald eagles can ingest small fragments of lead ammunition as they scavenge deer carcasses or other animals that have been shot. A lead fragment the size of a grain of rice can kill a bald eagle.

The center has been encouraging hunters to stop using lead-based ammunition.

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