TWRA develops wanted poster to seek information on eagle shootings

TWRA develops wanted poster to seek information on eagle shootings

June 6th, 2013 by Louie Brogdon in Local - Breaking News

State and federal wildlife officials have created wanted posters in hopes of finding the person or persons who shot and wounded two bald eagles in Southeast Tennessee. There's a $22,000 reward for information leading to arrests.

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HOW TO HELP

Anyone with information about the shootings of two bald eagles in the greater Chattanooga area is asked to call Special Agent Bo Stone at 865-692-4024, or Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife officers Joe McSpadden or Joe Pike at 800-262-6704.

Hoping to learn who shot two bald eagles in Southeast Tennessee, state and federal wildlife officials are trying to spark public awareness the old-fashioned way - with wanted posters.

Dan Hicks, public information officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said Tuesday the state, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, produced wanted posters to be distributed in post offices, public libraries, other public buildings and grocery stores throughout Southeast Tennessee.

Hicks hopes the posters will catch the eyes of passers-by and generate more information about the so-called eagle shooter.

Leads have been coming in following a reward offer, but the culprit or culprits are still at large, he said.

"We definitely received some leads. A lot of times information crawls out from under rocks you turn over," Hicks said.

One mature eagle was found with a gunshot wound in late March on Chickamauga Lake, near Soddy-Daisy. The second was found in May near Tellico Lake in Monroe County. Each had been shot in a wing and peppered with pellets.

The raptors were taken to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital and are recovering at the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Authorities have offered a $22,000 reward for information -- that's $11,000 per case. The money was donated by the American Eagle Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust.

Bald eagles have been removed from the federal Endangered Species List but still are protected under two federal laws. The maximum penalty for harming them is a $100,000 fine and/or a year in federal lockup.

Hicks wouldn't give specifics on the investigation Tuesday but said investigators have heard good and bad information. However, the more tips that come in the better, he said.

Al Cecere, founder and president of the American Eagle Foundation, said Tuesday both eagles were on the mend.

"They are still in initial stages of recovery. They were both shot in a wing and both birds suffered fractures in the wing," Cecere said.

Once the birds heal more, the foundation will decide if procedures are needed to remove the pellets.

"They may have them in there for life," he said.

Once they heal from wing surgery, the birds will be placed in a 150-foot-long flight cage with other recovering eagles and monitored, Cecere said.

If recovered eagles can fly and maneuver easily, the foundation releases them back to the wild. If not, the raptors are placed in other facilities for educational purposes, he said.

"Once they start flying back and forth on the high perch -- both frequently and adeptly -- that's when we decide about release," Cecere said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at @glbrogdoniv.