The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the shooting of a bald eagle in Jefferson County in the area of Elliots Shoals on Douglas Lake near Dandridge, Tenn. A reward of up to $12,500 is being offered for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible for shooting the eagle.
The wounded eagle was discovered alive on June 8, 2015, approximately 7.5 miles southeast of Dandridge and approximately seven tenths (.7) of a mile south of Hidden Cove Campground on Old Chisolm Trail on the north side of Douglas Lake. An examination by a veterinarian at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital determined that the eagle might have been shot a few days prior. It was transferred to the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge for rehabilitation. The eagle is a juvenile with mottled dark brown feathers overlaid with a few messy white streaked feathers. It typically takes an eagle 4-5 years to reach maturity and have adult plumage with the iconic white head and tail feathers.
“The bald eagle holds a special place in the heart of every American. It is our national emblem and a great symbol of pride and freedom,” said Bo Stone, special agent in the Service’s Knoxville Office of Law Enforcement. “This crime is inexcusable and we intend to prosecute the responsible party to the fullest extent of the law.”
Bald eagles historically ranged from Mexico to Alaska. Tennessee currently hosts about 190 breeding pairs, according to David Hanni, ornithologist with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. 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 eagles are found near rivers and lakes.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, both federal wildlife statutes, protect bald eagles. Violations of these statutes carry a maximum criminal penalty of up to $100,000 and/or one year in federal prison.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, and the American Eagle Foundation donated reward monies for this investigation. Anyone with information concerning the shooting of this eagle is asked to call Special Agent Bo Stone at (865) 692-4024 or Jefferson County Wildlife Officer Wayne Rich with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency at (800) 831-1174.
The mission of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is to protect, preserve, and perpetuate Tennessee’s wildlife and ecosystems for the sustainable use and recreational benefits for our state’s residents and visitors. To learn more go to www.tnwildlife.org.
Photo Credit: Juvenile bald eagle. Ken Thomas.