March 26, 2009

Conservation Department Investigating Eagle Shootings

The American bald eagle is the majestic symbol of the United States. That high stature wasn’t enough to prevent a pair of these federally protected birds from being killed in Scotland County last week.

According to Missouri Conservation Agent Gary Miller, carcasses of two eagles were recovered March 17th following reports from citizens regarding sightings of the downed birds.

Miller indicated the two birds were killed in different parts of the county, leading him to investigate the shootings as two separate incidents. Both sites were adjacent to roadways, leading Miller to believe the eagles likely were shot from the road.

While the American bald eagle was officially removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in June of 2007, the birds are still protected under law by the federal migratory bird act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Penalties for killing a migratory bird can be up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. The eagle protection act provides for jail time of up to one year and fines of up to $100,000 for killing an eagle.

Anyone with information regarding these local incidents is asked to contact Miller or to call the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-392-1111. The phone line is manned 24 hours a day and callers may remain anonymous, and may ask to be considered for a reward. If a caller provides information that results in an arrest, the agent (Miller) will refer this request to a citizen board of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. That board assigns a reward based on the severity of the violation involved. Rewards range from $50 to $1000.

In 1999, a Scotland County man was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $1,000 for killing a bald eagle. Judge Karl DeMarce handed down the maximum sentence to Bryan Woods, then 19, for the charge of illegally taking wildlife, a class A misdemeanor.

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