DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — America’s bald eagle population has soared back after the species nearly went extinct several decades ago. But these birds of prey are being threated once again.

Bird flu has killed dozens of them this year and new research indicates that lead poisoning is also killing the birds.

38 bald eagles were brought to the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur since 2018. About half of them had alarming levels of lead in their systems and eight of the birds died.

“There’s something in the environment that these birds are exposed to likely in these urban settings,” said Travis Wilcoxen of Milliken University. “And we’re probably exposed to that too.”

“It’s hard to see something so powerful and majestic become so weak and helpless,” said IRC Program Director Jaques Nuzzo.

The IRC also tested the birds bald eagles prey on, like pigeons and robins. Those birds also had a high level of lead in their systems.