COURTENAY -- Staff at an animal rescue facility on the North Island have yet another poisoned bald eagle to deal with, a problem they say they face every year.

Kiersten Syian, a wildlife rehabilitation manager at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) says an adult female eagle was brought in Friday showing signs of poisoning.

“When she came in, she was laying flat out,” Syian says. “She had laboured breathing, a lot of honking, a lot of head tilting. Those are all signs of lead poisoning.”

Syian says the eagle was tested to confirm lead poisoning, a problem that afflicts as many as one-third of the approximately 60 eagle patients they see every year.

“There’s a whole bunch of different possibilities where it can be coming from,” she says. “It’s a human-caused thing – we’re putting an excess of lead into the environment that we shouldn’t be.”

The eagle had been hanging around the Shelter Point Distillery in Oyster River and staff there knew instantly there was a problem.

“It had been on the farm and hadn’t moved in a couple of hours so that’s when we got concerned about it,” says distillery manager Jacob Wiebe.

He says catching the eagle wasn’t easy.

“Being on the farm you kind of get a feel for how the animals act throughout the day so we knew something was wrong with it and Patrick (the owner) braved it out with a blanket,” Wiebe says. “It’s easier than some of the other animals we’ve caught on the farm.”

Staff at the animal hospital say the prognosis for the eagle is not good.

“It’s really hard on their system,” Syian says. “It’s five days of injections twice a day, oral meds twice a day, tube feeding twice a day and then two days off and another five days on.”