A grand total of thirteen American Bald Eagles have been found dead in the state of Maryland. Scattered across the ground on a farm, the birds are being investigated by federal authorities and rewards are available for anyone who may have information regarding how the birds ended up dead.
American Bald Eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which was enacted in 1940, as well as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which was enacted in 1918. Both of which make it a crime to kill these animals.
The United States Fish and Wildlife says hefty fines can be imposed for violations of these acts, up to $100,000, and one year of imprisonment is also possible.
The cause of death still remains unknown at this point, although authorities do believe it may have something to do with poisoned carcasses, which is a technique some farmers often use to get rid of rodent problems. Unfortunately, there’s no way to regulate what animals will nibble on the poison, so the eagles may have wandered into the trap.
"Our officers searched the area around the farm and in total we found 13 bald eagles, three were mature, two were in the process of maturing and the rest were immature." Candy Thomson of the Maryland Natural Resources Police said in a statement. "What happens is that when farms have rodent problems, landowners will put out poison to control it, and the eagles will eat the poisoned animals.”
There are no records of a major American Bald Eagle slaughter like this in the area, so it’s a relatively unusual event. Sometimes one or two might be found throughout the course of the year, but thirteen is unheard of.
The carcasses are reportedly headed to Oregon for necropsies and X-rays where they will be tested to find the cause of death. Feather samples can reportedly reveal what the animals had to eat that day.
A $10,000 reward is being offered for any information that leads to the closing of this case.
Source: New York Times