MILWAUKEE -- Police in Wisconsin are seeking tips to help them solve the case of a bald eagle that was shot and injured.
The adult male bird was found unable to fly Wednesday on private property in Franklin, a city in Milwaukee County about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of Milwaukee. Eagles and their nests are federally protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“We’re looking for any information from the public, no matter how small it seems,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden Sam Haferkorn. “If people heard gun shots or anything out of the ordinary in that area of Franklin last week, please contact us.”
An examination at the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Milwaukee revealed that the eagle had been shot with a firearm, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday. It had a broken beak, fractured humerus bone and a substantial wound to muscle and other soft tissues in its wing.
Emergency surgery was performed Thursday to stabilize the fracture, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Under the Eagle Protection Act, wounding or killing an eagle can result in a fine of $100,000 and one year in prison for a first offense, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A second violation is a felony and carries heftier punishments.
Due largely to protection efforts, the number of occupied bald eagle nests in Wisconsin increased from 107 in 1974 to 1,684 in 2019, according to data from the Department of Natural Resources.
This year marked a milestone in eagle recovery when several active eagle nests were documented in Milwaukee County, the last of the state’s 72 counties to have such activity during the species’ comeback.
It’s not known if the adult male eagle found shot last week was one of the nesting pairs.