?The Interior Department last week released a report showing lead poisoning to be a growing cause of death of bald eagles, an endangered species. The birds are poisoned when they prey on waterfowl that have swallowed or been shot with a hunter's lead pellets. The report, based on a study of eagle mortality between 1963 and 1984, indicated that the percentage of bald eagle deaths attributable to lead poisoning had risen from 6.2 in 1980 to 15.2 last year. Interior has called for the banning of lead shot in eight states where eagle poisoning has been a problem, urging hunters to use nontoxic steel shot, but only Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota have complied. In issuing the new report the department threatened to prohibit hunting in the fall of 1986 in parts of Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, California and Oregon unless those states also ban lead shot.
?When long-dry Rush Creek in California's Mono County, 350 miles north of Los Angeles, suddenly sprang to life in 1983, no one could have foreseen that L.A.'s water rights would be threatened. But that's what happened. L.A.'s far-reaching Department of Water and Power sought to cut off Rush Creek's flow, but California Trout, a fishermen's group, got a temporary restraining order in Mono County Superior Court to prevent it, arguing in court that dam owners are required by state law to release sufficient water to preserve fish below any dam (SCORECARD, Feb. 4, 1985). The state attorney general filed an amicus brief backing most of Cal Trout's contentions, and after a daylong hearing last week Judge David Otis told SI's Robert Sullivan he would probably decide within a month whether the case will go to trial.
?The Quebec Department of Recreation, Fish and Game has found that last autumn's drowning of 10,000 migrating caribou in the Caniapiscau River (SI, Oct. 15, 1984) was a "natural catastrophe," thus clearing Hydro-Quebec of responsibility. Some of northern Quebec's Inuit natives dispute the finding, saying that under normal conditions no more than 500 caribou perish while crossing the river and that this was the first year water was being spilled by Hydro-Quebec's new dam 275 miles upstream from Limestone Falls. The Inuit think it's no coincidence that Hydro-Quebec is owned by the provincial government, which conducted the investigation.
?An international conference this week at the University of Minnesota coordinated by the Acid Rain Foundation of St. Paul will hear new scientific evidence linking air pollutants to the decline of forests. The findings follow recent studies indicating that lakes in the Rockies, as well as those already identified in the Appalachians, are threatened with acidification and that the West is experiencing more acid precipitation than previously realized (SI, Sept. 21, 1981, et seq.). A separate study by Dr. Hubert Vogelmann of the University of Vermont shows a 41% drop in the tonnage of living trees at high elevation on a research site in that state. This spring the Reagan Administration reaffirmed that it wouldn't propose any new funds to fight acid rain.
The Kentucky Derby's Run for the Roses inspires a number of coattail events in Louisville, none stranger than the Run for the Rodents at Spalding University. This year's 13th renewal of the race was sponsored by Sister Julia Clare Fontaine, head of the biology department at the small Catholic college. It attracted a field of 10 black and white laboratory rats, who ran on a 17-foot oval course in the school's parking lot. A pointy-nosed sprinter named Jumpin' Julep leaped over the leader, Kentucky Wild Rat, in the stretch to win by a whisker. The dirty rat's 3.2-second finish was 1.4 seconds off the course record.
Jumpin' Julep should look forward to a comfortable life at stud, considering his classic bloodlines. He's the great-grandson of Bob Sled, last year's winner, and the great-great-great-great grandson of Palace Princess, who scurried to victory in '83. We're sure he'll be happy to get out of the rat race.
BULLY FOR JORDAN
Even at a salary of $550,000, Chicago Bulls rookie Michael Jordan is a bargain. With Jordan on hand, the Bulls' average home attendance in 1984-85 was 87% higher than the year before, and the ticket sales went from about $2 million to $3.8 million. Tack on another $190,000 from the team's four-game playoff loss to Milwaukee (the Jordan-less Bulls didn't make the playoffs last season), and you can figure that Jordan's arrival has brought Chicago $2 million in additional revenues. This 350% return on investment would be Bullish in any league.
THE MAPLE LEAF RAG
The Toronto Star commemorated the Maple Leafs' dismal NHL showing by inviting readers to participate in a "cruel jokes" contest. The winning joke was the one about the team's rookie goalie, Ken Wregget, who was said to be so depressed after yet another one-sided Leaf loss that he jumped in front of the team bus...only to have it roll between his legs.