Bald Eagle Shooters Face Big Fines

Wednesday, February 28th 2007, 5:36 am
By: News On 6

Federal and state authorities are looking for the people responsible for killing two bald eagles in eastern Oklahoma. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovered the carcasses of both eagles within the past month.

News On 6 reporter Chris Wright reports those who work with animals say there is no excuse for shooting a bald eagle.

The bald eagle is doing quite well in Oklahoma. So well in fact, it is no longer an endangered species, but killing one is still a federal crime and carries a hefty fine and a possible prison sentence. US Fish and Wildlife Service agents found one bald eagle in Adair County at the end of January. A week later, they discovered a dead juvenile bald eagle in Sequoyah County near Gore. Both were shot.

The federal agency does not believe that the shootings are related, but they are offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to the arrest of anyone responsible. "We are just trying to get some information, hoping someone will come forward," says Jerry Monroe with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tulsa vet, Dr. Paul Welch treats a number of eagles, but says he rarely sees any that are shot because people usually know better. "You have to do this on purpose, you can't mistake an eagle for something else. This has to be a deliberate act."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worries that most people who kill bald eagles may be getting away with the crime. Monroe says if agents don’t recover a carcass, there is no way to know if a bald eagle has been shot. "Well, we probably average about three or four eagles a year that are reported killed, undoubtedly there are more than that that are killed and not reported."

Fortunately, the bald eagle population continues to flourish in Oklahoma. In the past decade, it has been moved off of the endangered species list, and onto the threatened species list.

Anyone with any information about either of the bald eagle killings is encouraged to give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a call at 405-715-0617