Nice work, humans. Thirteen bald eagles found dead last month in Maryland were likely killed by people.
Current evidence is pointing in that direction since all other likely causes of the bald eagles’ deaths have been ruled out, NBC News reported. The incident represented the worst die-off of the majestic birds in the state in 30 years.
The dead bald eagles were found on Maryland’s Eastern Shore on Feb. 20 on a farm and in woods in the town of Federalsburg by a man searching a field for shed deer antlers, CNN added. The man initially found four bald eagles, and he called the Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland Natural Resources to report the deaths.
The agency’s police reported to the sight and uncovered nine more carcasses after a search. The birds showed no obvious signs of trauma and an investigation was launched.
At first, they believed that the bald eagles ate poisoned animal carcasses, contaminated after humans put out the poison to control the rodent population. However, the man who owned the farm where the bald eagles were found denied using any at the time of the deaths.
The following statement was released by the agency at the time of the grisly discovery, The Inquisitr previously reported.
13 bald eagles found dead in Maryland didn’t die of natural causes, may have been killed by people, officials say. https://t.co/o1zrfIn57d— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 11, 2016
“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.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s forensics lab conducted necropsies and the results were recently shared with the public. Testing ruled out causes other than those perpetrated by humans. The bald eagles showed no signs of trauma, didn’t succumb to natural causes, and they had no signs of disease.
That the necropsies revealed that none of the bald eagles had avian flu is critical. Influenza is a major threat in the area since it’s home to many poultry farms and migratory birds.
The investigation, therefore, has now turned to humans, said agency spokeswoman Catherine. J. Hibbard.
No other information about the bald eagles deaths or theories as to how they could’ve been killed if humans are to blame were disclosed in order to protect the investigation.
Despite the fact that the investigation has now focused on humans, experts on bald eagles aren’t convinced poison didn’t kill them, The Washington Post reported.
Despite the farmer’s denial, they believe a pesticide or poison was ingested by the birds en masse, and said poison was intended to get rid of predators or rodents. If the animals who ate the poison, as intended, and then died outside, the birds could’ve eaten their carcasses and gotten sick that way.
“If there was any type of natural occurrence you would not find that number of dead bodies in one spot,” Ed Clark, president and founder of the Wildlife Center of Virginia. “Which means whatever killed them, killed them quickly and they didn’t get very far.”
In the past, the deaths of bald eagles have been caused by humans.
Until now, the largest number of bald eagles killed at one time was eight. Poisoning was suspected in that case, but testing was inconclusive. Two years ago in Wisconsin, however, something similar happened that resulted in the deaths of 70 animals, two bald eagles among them.
Farmers in that state used an illegal pesticide to kill coyotes and wolves and ended up killing dozens of creatures, including the birds, vultures, coyotes, owls, and a bobcat. They were fined $100,000.
The penalty for humans, either intentionally or otherwise, killing bald eagles is stiff. They are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and killing one is punishable by a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The authorities are offering a $25,000 reward for tips for information that leads to the conviction of the humans responsible.
Officials in California are investigating another animal death, that of an elderly koala living in a zoo by a wild mountain lion.
[Photo By S.Cooper Digital/Shutterstock]