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Rewards sought in bald eagle shooting

July 25, 2000

Rewards sought in bald eagle shooting



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


FORT LOUDON, Pa. - Conservation groups, individuals, Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers and the Pennsylvania Game Commission are offering combined rewards totaling $6,750 in connection with the shooting of a bald eagle in Fort Loudon last month.

Whoever killed the bird also cut off its talons, said Kevin Mountz, wildlife conservation officer in southern Franklin County. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has joined the investigation, Mountz said.

Mountz called the dead eagle "a local treasure among people who often visited the area to see it. They went there just to watch it, photograph and video tape it," he said. "This has made a lot of people extremely upset."

Bald eagles and golden eagles are often among the thousands of birds of prey that migrate over the Tuscarora flyway every fall. Teams of watchers go to the top of Tuscarora Summit, the mountain top that straddles Franklin and Fulton counties on U.S. 30, from Labor Day to the end of November each year to count the birds as they fly over. They report their numbers to the Hawk Migration Association of North America.

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Mountz believes the eagle was in the area temporarily to feed in the ponds in the Fort Loudon area.

The eagle's body was found by Peters Township, Pa., residents who reported it to the game commission, Mountz said.

He said it was an immature bird, from two to three years old, not yet old enough to have the familiar white head and tail that distinguishes the nation's symbol from other birds.

Mountz said the eagle's talons had been cut at the joint above the ankle. A post-mortem showed the bird died from a gunshot wound. Mountz declined to specify the caliber.

Bruce Whitman, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission in Harrisburg, said there are 49 nesting pairs of eagles in Pennsylvania. They produced 58 eaglets this year. More than half of the nesting pairs are found in the northwest part of the state. There are significant numbers along the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers too, Whitman said.

Among those offering rewards are the state Game Commission, Mount Parnell Fisheries on Fort Loudon Road, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's' Clubs, Pennsylvania Audubon Society, Fund for Animals, Pennsylvania Deer Association, U.S. Bald Eagle Protection Act, Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers and several individuals, Mountz said.

Whitman said the penalty for conviction on a charge of killing a bald eagle in Pennsylvania is 1 1/2 to two years in jail and fines up to $2,500.

Investigators ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-472-8477 or the Pennsylvania Game Commission hotline at 1-888-742-8001.

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