The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is offering a reward for information about a bald eagle that was found dead from a gunshot to the head.
Many people see the bird's death not just as a violation of federal law, but as a disgrace to the entire country.
“To me, that's the equivalent of burning a flag or disrespecting a veteran or whatever,” said retired biologist Carlton Bailey. “It kinda makes me nauseated. I can't imagine why anybody would do it, there's no mistaking it for something else.”
A photo of the eagle was posted to the Game Wardens Facebook page Tuesday morning. The caption said the eagle was found in Paw Paw Bottom, which is near the Oklahoma/Arkansas border south of I-40.
Game wardens with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have taken the government-protected bird in for evidence.
They believe the shooting was no accident.
“I take it kinda personal...it's in the county I try to protect,” said Game Warden Jeremy Bersche. “Close proximity to the road leads me to believe it was probably shot from the county road by someone passing by.”
The bald eagle was removed from the Endangered and Threatened Wildlife list in 2007, but it is still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Under that protection, it is illegal to hunt a bald eagle and is punishable with a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to a year.
The department is offering a reward to anyone with information and they stated you can remain anonymous. The person who gave information leading to a conviction will be paid up to $2,500, according to the Animal Legal & Historical Center.
For Bailey, it's about knowing the power of a rifle, but respecting the legacy of an American icon.
“They're a part of who we are. They should be respected and protected and I just can't imagine any excuse for destroying one,” he said.
If anyone has information, he or she is encouraged to call the Sequoyah County Game Warden at 918-431-2550.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.