(WHTM) — On Thursday, March 9, 2023, a volunteer from the Raven Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center found an injured eagle that was only able to fly a short distance. After multiple tests and exercises, the team knew it was poisoned.

“It’s heartbreaking because it takes a lot for these eagles to be so grounded that people are actually finding them and rescuing them and are able to get them to us,” said Tracie Young, executive director of the Raven Ridge Wildlife Center.

After multiple seizures, the eagle passed away, marking the second bald eagle death in the last month at Raven Ridge and the fourth in the last year.

Around 16 million birds are poisoned by lead every year throughout the United States, according to the American Bird Conservancy.

“The lead affects them physically & mentally. They just can’t hunt, they can’t fly, they can’t stand. They’re extremely sick, and by the time we get to them, they’re in unbelievably bad shape,” said Young.

All birds are scavengers and eat what is available to them, and some hunters, hikers, and fishers use lead ammunition and devices. Moving away from lead-based products could make a significant difference.

“We owe it to our animals, somebody has to do it. You know, to save these animals, to get them better, and to get them back into the wild,” said Young.