When MPG Ranch started its campaign to raise awareness about lead poisoning in eagles, almost no hunting organizations would publicly acknowledge the problem. But now, roughly a decade later, some hunting groups are taking action.One of those groups is the Boone & Crockett Club. Founded by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell in 1887, B&C is the oldest hunting organization in the country. Their mission is to promote the conservation wildlife and they’re willing to square off against the thorniest issues.A research biologist affiliated with “The Club” invited me to write an essay about lead for their latest issue of Fair Chase. The appearance of this article in a hunting magazine offers an example of how this issue has entered a new era. Conservation wins can take decades.
Mike shot his first weapon before he could recite the alphabet. Now, understanding weapons is part of his job. His career took this trajectory after Mike gained a B.S. in Environmental Chemistry. Curious about potential pollution at a historic shooting range at MPG Ranch, he earned an M.S. in Geosciences studying the site. Strangely, the sulfur inside the trap and skeet targets posed the main threat, not the lead in the shotgun pellets. Regardless, lead contamination soon grabbed Mike’s focus. Each winter at MPG Ranch, biologists caught eagles that had lead coursing through their veins. Lead can cripple eagles flightless and even kill them. Mike soon initiated studies on scavenger ecology and began investigating the wound ballistics of rifle bullets, the suspected source of lead.
Mike often connects with the public through his writings and speaking engagements, whether it be to a local group of hunters, or a gymnasium full of middle schoolers. He frequently writes about the outdoors, with work appearing in Sports Afield, The FlyFish Journal, Backcountry Journal, and Bugle. When he escapes the office, Mike explores wild landscapes with his family, always scanning the horizon for wildlife.