Thirteen bald eagles were killed and found on a Maryland farm over the weekend. Federal agents are now investigating to find out what happened to the majestic birds that are the symbol of the United States.
The 13 eagles found dead along the eastern shore of the state has been declared to largest “single die-off” of bald eagles in three decades, the Washington Post reports. The working theory about the deaths involves a possible poisoning of the massive birds.
$10,000 reward being offered for info leading to a conviction in dead of 13 bald eagles on the Eastern Shore. pic.twitter.com/lghqISgpOb
— MD NRP (@MDNRPolice) February 22, 2016
Maryland Natural Resources officers were notified that a man stumbled across four dead bald eagles during a hike on Saturday afternoon. The unidentified man thought that he had spotted a dead turkey in a Caroline County farm field until he moved closer and saw the bodies of four eagles.
After the natural resources officers arrived at the Maryland farm, they discovered nine more dead eagles. The farm where the 13 bald eagles were mysteriously killed is located on Laurel Grove Road in Federalsburg, the Huffington Post reports.
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) February 23, 2016
Candy Thomson, a representative from the Maryland Natural Resources law enforcement arm, said that the 13 eagles did not show any obvious signs of trauma and noted that poison of some type could have been used to cause the deaths.
The poisoning could have been unintentional, Thomson also noted. She said someone might have used some type of chemical pesticide or other similar agent to kill rodents. If such a scenario occurred, and the eagles dined on the rodents or their carcasses, they could have quickly died, as well. A $2,500 reward is being offered for information about the 13 dead bald eagles.
“We just don’t know right now, which is why we’re asking the public if they heard anything, if they saw anything, we want to know about it,” Thomson added.
“It’s been 30 years since we’ve seen anything like this involving this many dead bald eagles. Three mature eagles, the ones we all love that look like the national bird, are gone. It’s sad that we have three eagles of mating ability that have been eliminated from our population.”
13 Bald Eagles Found Dead On Maryland Farm
At least three of the dead bald eagles had reached maturity. When bald eagles become adults, they boast a full white head and deep brown feathers on their bodies. Two of the dead eagles were past the juvenile stage and nearing maturing, and the rest of the birds were young and did not yet possess any of the signature white feathers on their heads.
After the eagles were tagged and photos taken where they were found, about six agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stepped in to investigate the deaths. The agents walked the Maryland farm field searching for clues to what may have caused the bald eagles to all suddenly perish. The bodies of the birds were shipped to a lab in Oregon for examination and testing.
About 30 years ago, eight bald eagles were found dead in Maryland, and the poisoning was ultimately ruled as the cause. In 2014, two eagles were shot and killed in nearby Montgomery County. Although the birds are no longer on the Endangered Species list, it is still illegal to shoot or kill the national birds that have long symbolized the freedom and strength of America.
What do you think killed the 13 bald eagles found on the Maryland farm?
[Image via Shutterstock]