photo: Pen Waggener/Creative Commons
In the latest WTF?! animal news: Two bald eagles have been found shot dead in Tennessee, a few hours outside of Nashville, apparently deliberately targeted by someone who John Rayfield, special agent for the US Fish & Wildlife Service calls "more of an eagle killer than eagle hunter." Rayfield added,
There are no birds that large that are legal to shoot now with a rifle. If someone said, "I accidentally shot it; I thought it was a vulture," well it's illegal to shoot a vulture too. If they said they thought it was a wild turkey, well, it's not turkey season.
There's a $17,000 reward offered for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible, who, if caught faces up to $100,000 in fines and/or a year in federal prison as both bald and golden eagles are protected under two different federal statutes.
Bald Eagles Bounced Back From Pesticide Poisoning
Previously common across much of the United States, by the mid 1950s the bald eagle population had declined dramatically due to DDT poisoning, with just 412 nesting pairs in the continental US. Since the banning of DDT, conservation efforts have brought the birds back from the brink of extinction. In 2007 bald eagles were taken off the endangered species list and have an estimated population of over 100,000--50,000 of which are in Alaska alone.