Foul play not suspected in death of eagle; Indication was that eagle hit by vehicle

Published 10:49 am Thursday, June 9, 2016

Foul play is not suspected to have killed a bald eagle found dead in March south of Albert Lea, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday.

Regional Public Affairs Specialist TIna Shaw said the bird died from blunt force trauma and was scavenged on, noting blunt force trauma is an indication that the bird was struck by a vehicle.

The lab report was received in late April after the bald eagle was transported to the unit’s forensic lab in Oregon.

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The bald eagle was reportedly placed in a small bag by the person who first reported the mortality to local law enforcement. The bag was not large enough to enclose the carcass.

Shaw said wildlife would have been easily able to prey upon the eagle, noting the investigation proved the usefulness of forensic evidence.

Federal authorities opened the investigation after the eagle was found butchered like a game bird. The eagle’s talons and part of one leg were cut off, as well as breast meat. Feathers were left behind.

Authorities previously stated they thought the death was an act of poaching.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought information and offered a reward of up to $2,500 for information that would lead to the conviction of any responsible party after the bird was found on Minnesota Department of Transportation property.

The bald eagle is protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Killing or possession of a bald eagle or its parts is a violation of both acts, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Shaw advised anyone who finds a dead eagle in the future to work with local conservation law enforcement agencies, noting she ultimately wants to see such carcasses handled by the unit’s National Eagle Repository.

“This facility helps provide eagle feathers and other parts for Native American religious ceremonies,” she said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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