The following story is hard to fathom in light of two things. The first is the video recently posted in Bry’s Quick Hits showing the AEF – DC Eagle Cam highlighting a mother feeding and controlling her two eaglets’ rambunctious behavior. The second being my own personal up close observation of a bald eagle that perched directly above the dock where I was vacationing on Lake Vermillion. Six of us watched in silent and rapt attention for five minutes before the eagle continued his journey.
The awe and appreciation we shared that day was not on display with a frustrated landowner in Smithfield, VA. who claimed the bird had been eating fish from his pond and small game on his property. The frustrated 62-year old shot at, and hit, an adult male eagle and when his .22 caliber failed to complete this illegal act, hauled in his ATV to complete his heinous crime. Details of this story were initially reported in the Washington Post and stated:
The accused initially denied killing the bird but witnesses confirmed not only the act but also the method of repeatedly dragging the bird in a circle before heading off to the woods to hide the body. Investigators armed with that knowledge ultimately got a confession and were led to the body of the bird. The accused pleaded guilty to violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. (FYI: the Bald and Golden Eagle Act does have a process for an individual to apply for a legal “take” of a bird if there is a legitimate threat to safety or worries of depredation) He will also hand over his rifle and pay a fine equal to half the value of his ATV.
Thankfully, there is no known video (if it exists, it won’t be posted here) that would serve as a reminder that even though, their numbers are strong enough to remove them from the Endangered Species List, the Amercian Bald Eagle is not immune to an individual’s unthinkable actions.