Reward offered in bald eagle death..KEYWORDS: eagle poaching eagle reward eagles endangered species threatened species in the US pacific northwest eagles inland northwest eagles
AUTHOR: Nicholas K. Geranios
SPOKANE, Wash. — A bald eagle was shot to death and left hanging from a tree branch this week, and a federal agency is offering a reward for information about who shot a bird that is the nation’s symbol.
The adult eagle, classified as threatened by the government, was found hanging from a branch in a field about a mile from Sprague, near Highway 231, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. One of its talons was still holding a branch. Biologists recovered the carcass and placed it in storage as evidence.
A reward of $2,500 has been offered for information leading to the arrest of the people responsible. Shooting a bald eagle is a federal offense.
The agency has received reports of six eagle shootings in northeastern Washington since January 2002. Two resulted in deaths.
Bald eagles are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species in the lower 48 states.
Experts believe there were about 100,000 nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states when the bird was adopted as the national symbol in 1782. But habitat destruction, illegal shooting, and contamination of its food, mostly due to the pesticide DDT, nearly made the eagle extinct.
By the early 1960s, there were fewer than 450 bald eagle nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. Numbers have since improved, and the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed removing them from the threatened list. A management plan is being developed.
The dead eagle will eventually be sent to an Indian tribe, where parts are used in ceremonies.
Male bald eagles generally measure 3 feet from head to tail, weigh 7 to 10 pounds, and have a wingspan of about 6 1/2 feet. Females are larger, some reaching 14 pounds and having a wingspan of up to 8 feet.
Bald eagles are believed to live 30 years or longer in the wild. They mate for life and build huge nests in the tops of large trees near rivers, lakes and marshes.
Bald eagles normally lay two to three eggs once a year and the eggs hatch after about 35 days. The young eagles are flying within 3 months and are on their own about a month later. Only about half survive their first year.