FOLSOM (CBS13) — For years, several bald eagles have called Folsom home. But this week, one was found dead along a trail.
Wildlife watchers are saddened and concerned its death may have been caused by humans.READ MORE: 'Never Been So Excited': Nonprofit Gets Unexpected Help As Storm Threatens Shelter
Many people flock to Folsom Lake State Park hoping to get a glimpse of bald eagles.
“They’re pretty special for a lot of people,” Jim Cassio, the president of Friends of Lakes Folsom & Natoma, said.
The birds with distinctive white plumage on their heads return to Folsom every year to lay eggs.
“The eagles like the area and we have several nesting pairs within our park,” Cassio said.
But news that one eagle was found this week along Folsom’s Johnny Cash Trail with a fatal injury is troubling to those who try and educate others about the species.
“It saddens us for sure,” Cassio said. “We have seen people that will see a bald eagle for the first time and are just taken aback by it. Some have even cried.”
Populations of the once-threatened birds are rebounding. They’re no longer on the federal endangered species list, but are still protected in California.READ MORE: Updates: Strong Winds And Rain Moving Across Sacramento Region
The eagle that died was turned over to state biologists who will determine what caused its death, but local bird watchers are concerned it may have died from human negligence.
“Occasionally an eagle will die by catching an animal that was poisoned like rat poisoning and then they’ll get poisoned, or if they eat an animal that was shot with lead shot they can die from that,” Cassio said.
Also, something as simple as a lost fish hook can be fatal.
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“It’s a constant need to remind people don’t leave things behind, especially things that will have a harmful impact on the wildlife,” Cassio said.
They’re now launching an outreach effort to help protect the national bird for future generations to enjoy.
“They’re majestic birds and we love them,” Cassio said.MORE NEWS: Two New Sandbag Locations Opened In Sacramento
This time of year, bald eagles begin nesting in the Folsom area. The birds typically lay two eggs and their young will hatch in mid-March.