A Nebraska Sheriff's office cited two men for allegedly hunting a bald eagle with the intention of cooking and eating the national bird.
The Stanton County Sheriff's Office said it responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle at the Wood Duck Recreation Area in Stanton County in eastern Nebraska at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Law enforcement found two men – Ramiro Hernandez-Tziquin, 20 and Domingo Zetino-Hernandez, 20 – in possession of a dead bald eagle.
The two men, who live in Norfolk, Nebraska but are Honduran nationals, said they had not only shot and killed the bird but also intended to cook and eat the eagle, authorities said.
The Sheriff's office cited both men for unlawful possession of the eagle, and Hernandez-Tziquin was also charged for not having a driver's license.
"More serious charges are possible as the investigation into the unlawful killing continues," a statement from Stanton County Sheriff's Office said. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act federally prohibits killing a bald eagle.
Nebraska Game and Parks took custody of the rifle used to kill the eagle as well as the bird's carcass.
While the number of bald eagles severely declined through the 20th century and were classified as federally endangered in 1978, the species made a comeback both nationally and in Nebraska.
The number of active nests has increased every year since 1991 in Nebraska according to Nebraska Game and Parks. In 2012, the department surveyed over 100 active nests throughout the state, including over 990 bald eagles.
It is unclear if the men know the bird they killed was a bald eagle.