Bald Eagles Used to ID Chemical Pollution

HASTINGS, Minn., Feb. 1 (UPI) — A National Park Service official says scientists are using bald eagles to determine how chemicals are polluting waterways and wildlife in the U.S. Midwest.

Bill Route of the National Park Service said by monitoring the systems of nearly 60 male-female eagle pairs along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, scientists are able to gather details regarding the spread of human contaminants, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said Monday.

“They accumulate these contaminants in their system,” Route said of the eagles. “If we can track those trends through time we can discover a good measure of human contaminants.”

Among the discovered contaminants found via the eagle research were two groups of flame retardants used in the production of a variety of consumer items.

Route said while such contaminants are still evident in parts of Minnesota, there has been a noticeable drop in discovered traces of the pesticide DDT, which was tied to a bald eagle population drop in the 1960s.

“We need to congratulate ourselves for cleaning up the water with a lot of these pesticides,” Route told the Star Tribune. “We just have to be vigilant … to look for other chemicals.”

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