From The Free Lance-Star: Bald eagles injured in Caroline, Stafford:
Two bald eagles landed in a heap of trouble over the weekend.
One was injured Friday in a fight with another eagle in Stafford County.
But of more concern to wildlife authorities, a second bird was found shot in Caroline County on Saturday.
Both birds were captured by state conservation police officers (formerly game wardens) and taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro where they are recovering.
Tom Lernihan and a buddy were hunting quail with their dogs in Tignor on the eastern end of Caroline when one of the dogs discovered the downed eagle.
“We got so close to the bird, we knew that something was not right,” Lernihan said yesterday. “It had its wings spread, like it had just killed something. We knew it was hurt” when it didn’t fly away.
They went to a house on the property and called the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Meanwhile, the bird hopped into a small pond and fluttered over to a partially submerged stump.
Lernihan said the downed bird’s mate circled above as the drama unfolded.
The eagle, up close, he said, “was amazing to see. It was beautiful. Stunning. I hope it makes it.”
Struck with pellets
Conservation Police Officer Joe Dedrick managed to capture the bird–a large female–with a fish net when it came back to shore. He took it to a local wildlife rehabilitator, who drove the eagle about 100 miles west to the wildlife center.
Dedrick said he is investigating the shooting.
“The bird was shot with a shotgun,” Ed Clark, president of the wildlife center, said yesterday. Whoever shot it was using No. 6 shot, typically used for game such as squirrels and rabbits.
“Apparently it was shot from some distance based on the wide spread of shot in the bird,” Clark said.
X-rays showed about a dozen lead pellets lodged in its body. One cracked a bone that is expected to heal, he said.
Another lodged in the bird’s eye, damaging its retina. An eagle with an injured eye cannot be released.
“The bird is going to recover, and never be free, which is a tragedy,” Clark said. The wildlife center will try to find a permanent home for it at a site licensed to keep eagles.
This is the second gun-shot bald eagle cared for by the center this year. The first was found in June, wounded in Page County, near Luray.
Though bald eagles came off the endangered species list in June, it is illegal to shoot them under other state and federal statutes.
“There’s really not a rational explanation,” for the Caroline shooting, Clark said.
“Anybody who cannot tell a bald eagle from another bird has no business being in the woods with a gun. Somebody just took a shot at this bird for the heck of it.”
The Bald and Golden Eagle Recovery Act of 1940 provides for a maximum $5,000 fine, a year in prison, or both, for killing an eagle. The fine covers a $2,500 payment for information leading to a conviction.
The law allows limited taking of eagles for scientific, exhibition or religious purposes, or for the protection of wildlife.
Anyone with information on the eagle shot in Caroline County may contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Report a Wildlife Violation section at: 800/237-5712, or by e-mail, email@example.com