Tennessee Searching for Bald Eagle Poacher
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the shooting of a bald eagle east of Crossville in the Crab Orchard Community near the Crab Orchard School in Cumberland County.
This is the second bald eagle killed in Tennessee in less than a month. Another eagle had been recently found shot and killed in adjacent Bledsoe County, in the area of Big Springs Gap Road. The birds were found approximately 30 miles apart.
The first person who provides information resulting in the successful prosecution of the person or persons responsible in these investigations will be eligible to receive an $8,500 reward.
The eagle killed in Cumberland County was examined by a veterinarian and determined to have been shot. The eagle killed in Bledsoe County was also examined by veterinarians at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and determined to have been shot. Both bald eagles were mature with a white head and white tail.
Anyone with information concerning the eagle found in Cumberland County is asked to call Special Agent John Rayfield at (615) 736-5532, or Cumberland County Wildlife Officer Casey Mullen with the TWRA at 800-262-6704.
Anyone with information concerning the eagle found in Bledsoe County is asked to call Special Agent Bo Stone at (865) 692-4024, or Bledsoe County Wildlife Officer Mark Patterson with the TWRA at 800-262-6704. The reward for information on this killing has been increased to $8,500. For more information on that investigation, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2011/11-018.html.
While bald eagles were taken off the Endangered Species Act in 2007 after a successful national recovery effort, they are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, both federal wildlife statutes. Violations of these statutes carry maximum criminal penalties of up to $100,000 and/or one year in federal prison.
Tennessee currently hosts about 140 eagle breeding pairs, according to Scott Somershoe, ornithologist with the TWRA.
Bald eagles historically ranged from Mexico to Alaska. It typically takes four or five years for bald eagles to mature but many do not start breeding until they are much older. They may live 15 to 25 years in the wild. Their primary diet is fish, so most bald eagles are found near rivers and lakes.
A number of organizations and individuals have contributed to the reward including: the TWRA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, The American Eagle Foundation, and private donors.
The mission of the TWRA is to preserve, conserve, protect, and enhance the fish and wildlife of the state and their habitats for the use, benefit, and enjoyment of the citizens of Tennessee and its visitors. The agency will foster the safe use of the state's waters through a program of law enforcement, education, and access.