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Saving Our Avian Resources, SOAR is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1999 dedicated to saving our avian resources through raptor rehabilitation, education, and research. SOAR maintains all necessary US Fish & Wildlife Service and Iowa DNR permits to provide the rehabilitation and education.

We are...

Saving Our Avian Resources (SOAR) is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1999 dedicated to saving our avian resources through raptor rehabilitation, education, and research. SOAR maintains all necessary US Fish & Wildlife Service and Iowa DNR permits to provide the rehabilitation and education.

Our Goals

Eagles released on April 19

After a SOAR program about why we're still talking about the impacts of lead on wildlife and people, two rehabilitated eagles were released at the South Tailwater Area, across the road from the Red Rock Visitor Center. The program and release is sponsored by Ewing Development of Pella, Iowa.

Photos and videos of the release are here. Also check our Facebook page!


Looking for a non-toxic ammo gift for your favorite hunter?

non-lead ammoSeveral opportunities are coming up to surprise your favorite hunter with non-toxic ammunition -- Easter, May Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day!

Not sure what to get? First, find out what the caliber or gauge of their favorite firearm and then check that against what is available! Does your hunter reload their own cartridges? Not to worry, non-lead bullets are available, too.

Download this list of non-lead hunting bullets and ammunition that not only lists what is available by manufacturer but also lists great websites to purchase on-line.



USFWS Region 3 bald eagle lead exposure research

The March issue of "Inside Region 3" is the first of three articles on the bald eagle lead exposure study conducted in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The second and third articles will be printed in April (focuses on public outreach effort) and May (focuses on quantity of lead shot during our managed hunts). (280 KB PDF)


Lead Poisoning Prevention

From Kay Neumann, SOAR Executive Director
December 11, 2013

It has been a difficult week and its only Wednesday! SOAR has had three lead poisoning cases in as many days. A Trumpeter Swan was found dead in Cass three lead deathsCounty on Monday. An adult male eagle (photo, middle) from Raptor Resource Project arrived Tuesday and died just as we were transferring him into my vehicle. This morning, an adult female eagle died. She had come in from Carroll County (Bennett Access eagle, photo right) with blood lead levels greater than 0.65 ppm, and we had been giving her chelation injections since the day after Thanksgiving.

Rehabilitators in Iowa have been gathering data on lead poisoning in wildlife for the last ten years. It is still heartbreaking each time we lose one of these patients. Necropsies were done on the swan and the male eagle today. A lead sinker was found in the swan’s gizzard and lead shrapnel (a fragment from a lead bullet or slug) was found in the eagle’s stomach.

lead sinker in swan gizzard shrapnel in eagle stomach
Lead sinker from the swan's gizzard Piece of lead shrapnel from Bluffton eagle's stomach


Lead is a toxin that destroys liver, kidney, and brain tissue. It bumps oxygen off of red blood cells, this is what causes the lead poisoned birds to gasp for air. Their bodies are signaling a need for oxygen, but no matter how hard they try the lead will not allow the blood to carry the oxygen they are gulping in. Despite our best efforts, only a few of the lead poisoning cases make it. Prevention is the only best option.

Iowa has just had its first shotgun slug deer season. There will be another shotgun season and then a muzzleloader season for harvesting deer. By the middle of January, if it’s a normal year, hunters will have taken around 150,000 deer in Iowa with firearms. With wounding rates at about 10% of harvest, 15,000 deer carcasses will be available and many, many gut piles. If the deer was shot with a lead bullet or slug there will be lead shrapnel in the carcass and gut pile. These items are food for our eagles. If the deer has been shot with a copper bullet or slug, the gut piles and carcasses will be a good lead-free, poison-free food source. A simple switch to nonlead ammunition would prevent lead poisoning in eagles.

Iowa wildlife rehabilitators have taken full body x-rays of 145 bald eagles. Eleven of these have still had shrapnel in the digestive tract, six had lead shot in their digestive tracts, and one had an entire .22 lead core bullet in her stomach. Ninety four of these 145 (65%) had abnormal  lead levels in blood or liver tests.  Many times the lead has been completely digested before the eagle is admitted and we cannot see it on x-ray.

Too many eagles and other wildlife are dying preventable deaths. Please help us spread the word and convince hunters to use non-lead ammunition (shot, slugs, bullets!) and anglers to use non-lead tackle and sinkers.


Human-made hazards abound

It's difficult being a wild creature in the human landscape. Dangers lurk around every corner and navigating them is a challenge. Look out your window and you're likely to see at least a couple hazards for our furred and feathered friends. SOAR admits most patients because of human-bird interaction that has gone wrong -- shotgun pellets in the bird, bird being hit by a vehicle, bird's nest tree cut down, and birds eating spent lead hunting ammunition just to name a few.

Many of these interactions can have a better outcome with a bit of intervention.

How about planting a seed with your local power company and giving them the "Raptors at Risk" video... order here!