Four bald eagles were found shot to death near a Snohomish County lake last week, prompting a search for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Officials and a Native American tribe are offering a $13,750 award for the information.
Authorities believe the birds were shot from the trees. They dropped into the lake, where their bodies were found floating, reports NBC News.
The incident occurred east of Granite Falls, Washington. Sergeant Jennifer Marstad, who works with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, stated:
“I’ve never seen anything like this in 11 years … it’s egregious.”
It looks like the birds were shot with a small-caliber rifle. While the black market for eagle parts can be lucrative, it appears the person responsible wasn’t looking for money. Maurstad added:
“I don’t think he [the killer] had any intention of profiting from them. I think it was just a spur-of-the-moment opportunity.”
The bald eagle, America’s national bird, is protected. Killing one without a permit is a serious offense. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act says that felony convictions can lead to a fine of $250,000 or two years in prison. There are also civil penalties of thousands of dollars and imprisonment.
The Seattle Times notes that the four bald eagles killed have been sent to a lab for x-rays. Maurstad stated, “The cause of death is pretty obvious … but if we can retrieve the bullets, at least we can match it up to something.”
Bald eagles are beloved in Washington states, so it is unusual to fine ones that have been killed intentionally. Eagle parts on the black market are used for everything from high-end artwork to Wiccan ceremonies and Native American powwows. Investigators add that the birds are sometimes referred to as “flying $1,000 bills,” because of their black market price.
Investigators have no leads so far as to who killed the four bald eagles in Snohomish County, Washington.
[Image from ShutterStock]