The Missouri Department of Conservation is investigating the shooting of a male bald eagle near the town of Belgrade in southern Washington County.
Dan Zarlenga, media specialist, said the incident occurred at the intersection of Highways C and Z and is believed to have happened on Feb. 3 or 4. The eagle did not survive.
Washington County Conservation Agent Jaymes Hall received a report about an injured bald eagle from the U.S. Forest Service office in Potosi on Feb. 5.
Agent Hall responded and found the male bald eagle in a field near a nest with its mate in the nest.
Hall said the eagle was seriously injured and determined it needed to be captured so its injuries could be treated. The bird was captured with the help of Viburnum Police Chief Hershel Shipman.
Hall transported the injured eagle to the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park.
Sanctuary staff examined the eagle and found that the bird’s right wing was dislocated and severely fractured. A closer examination revealed two gunshot wounds through the joint connecting the wing to the torso.
Based on the extent of tissue healing, it was estimated the bald eagle was shot on Feb. 3 or 4.
The World Bird Sanctuary operated on the bald eagle hoping to repair its injuries and rehabilitate it.
The eagle went into surgery on Saturday to see if the fracture to his upper bone in the wing could be pinned and fixed.
However, the veterinarian discovered two gunshot wounds through the shoulder where the right wing connected to the torso and the wing was dislocated and fractured. The veterinarian also found that most of the tissue surrounding that bone was necrotic or dead. Due to the extent of the injuries, the veterinarian decided to euthanize the eagle.
The conservation department currently is investigating the case and is seeking additional evidence that might assist in the investigation.
The bald eagle is a protected species under law and shooting one is both a state of Missouri violation and a federal offense.
Anyone from the public who has information regarding the shooting are encouraged to call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-392-1111.
Callers can choose to remain anonymous or be eligible for a cash reward if the tip leads to an arrest.