The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who shot two bald eagles in the Tennessee River Valley recently. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the Service are investigating the shootings. There is a separate reward for each eagle.

“We are especially angered by these actions because it is nesting season,” said TWRA Wildlife Sergeant Chris Combs. “This is our national symbol and it’s an atrocity to see them senselessly shot.”

A radiograph shows shotgun pellets in a bald eagle’s body. The eagle had to be euthanized. Photo: Avian and Exotic Animals Service at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center.

“These birds hold a special place in Americans’ hearts,” said FWS Resident Agent in Charge John Rayfield.  “They are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and we need citizens who might have some information to come forward and help us investigate this crime.”

The first injured eagle was reported on Jan. 30 in Meigs County.  The female was taken to the Avian and Exotic Animals Service at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center.  It was determined the eagle had been shot with shotgun pellets up to a week prior to being found. Her injures were incurable and she was euthanized.

The second eagle was found, also alive but in poor condition, on Feb. 1 in adjacent Rhea County. Veterinarians at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center found suspected entrance and exit wounds thought to be caused by gunshot. The eagle was also euthanized.

Bald eagles were declared an Endangered Species in 1978. Eagle populations recovered, and the endangered status was removed in 2007. However, bald eagles are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Violations of these statutes carry a maximum criminal penalty of up to $100,000 and/or one year in federal prison. State charges may also apply.

Anyone with knowledge regarding these two shootings is asked to contact the TWRA, Region III office at 931-484-9571 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 615-736-5532.

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