Two bald eagles were shot in the Tennessee Valley, leading to a search for clues as to who attacked the birds.
Wildlife officials found the bald eagles in two different areas — one in Hamilton County and the other in Monroe County. Both of the bald eagles shot were able to survive and are now recovering, and police are searching for the people responsible.
The first bald eagle, a fully grown adult, was found along the Tennessee River in the last week in March. A family found the eagle lying next to their dock with a wounded wing.
Another wounded bald eagle was found in the first week in May near the Tellico River. This one was a younger eagle, police said.
Police say whoever shot the bald eagles knew what they were doing.
“They have a big white head and white tail, so it’d be hard to have one be a mistaken identity,” TWRA Officer Joe McSpadden said.
The bald eagle shootings have touched a nerve with local residents, more than another attack on protected animals. The bald eagle is a symbol of America, and a protected bird.
Police said they are searching for the suspect but haven’t received any tips yet. McSpadden made an appeal to anyone with information to come forward. Police are also offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooter or shooters responsible for the bald eagle attack.
“We intend to punish someone to the fullest extent of the law, if we can catch who shot the eagle,” Officer McSpadden said.
That could mean harsh consequences for whoever shot the bald eagles in Tennessee. The shootings violate the Gold and Bald Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which means up to a $100,000 fine and/or a year in prison.