ELMWOOD, NE (WCMH) — Betsy Finch says she feels like she has failed when Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery cannot save an eagle from dying of lead poisoning.

It usually happens after the eagle feeds on an animal that has been killed by a lead bullet. 

“This seems to be the worst I’ve seen it in years. We get some lead poisoned eagles in every year. It is a real problem,” she said.

In January, six bald eagles were taken to Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery in Elmwood. Only two survived.

“If we don’t get them in time, there’s not much we can do,” Finch said.

Lead kills eagles very quickly.

It only takes a piece the size of a grain of rice to be lethal. 

But, there are preventative steps that hunters, like Kent Walton, can take.

“Just stop using lead and encourage your friends to stop using lead,” walton said. 

Most hunters use lead because it is heavier, more accurate, and cheaper. 

Walton encourages hunters to become more educated about the alternatives.

“They are beautiful birds. If I can help prevent them from getting lead poisoning when I’m out hunting by using nontoxic shot such as steel, bismuth, tungsten…  I’m happy to do that.”

Raptor Recovery Rehab is determined to preserve our national bird.

Two eagles Finch’s team are caring for will soon have a new home. 

“Two are out in the big flight pen right now preparing for release probably within two weeks. I’m hoping they will get to go,” Finch said.