Nineteen eagles have been found dead by City of Prince Rupert staff due to a “spill” in a septic pond near a landfill.

City officials said after the eagles were found, it discovered a “deleterious substance” was dumped in the liquid waste site at the local landfill.

Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond said it appears the liquid “fouled” the feathers of the eagles, who were then unable to escape the pond.

He said the impact of the deaths is being felt across the community.

“Our staff were heartbroken. Those eagles are almost our friends out there … they are regular (visitors),” Pond said. “To see 19 of them perish is heartbreaking.”

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Pond said the liquid was dumped improperly.

“We are not sure what it is and an investigation is underway,” he said. “There are only a few people that have access to this site. We have to make sure we never see an event like this happen again.”

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The city said it is working closely with the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Environment Canada, and Climate Change in the investigation.

Pond said the city is also exploring options for how to prevent a spill like this from occurring in the future.

“We also understand the cultural importance of eagles and all wildlife to our local First Nations and the distressing impact this will have on many residents,” city staff said in a release.

A clean-up of the area has been completed by the city.

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildlife expert worries about dying bald eagles'

B.C. wildlife expert worries about dying bald eagles

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