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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014
UPDATED: Bald eagle's death may impact othersPosted Saturday, March 28, 2009, at 7:51 AM
A female American Bald Eagle eagle sits tall on her nest just off of County Road 100S -- near Linton. (Photo by Nick Schneider)
I received word late Friday night from Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area property manager Brad Feaster that he had heard from Lee Sterrenburg, with the Sassafras Audubon Society of Bloomington, and he reported seeing two adults at the eagle nest on the morning of March 26. That's encouraging news, however, that does not downplay the severity of the crime that was committed here. Your help is still needed to catch the culprits who shot the male eagle on or before March 15.
I join with many of our readers who have been outraged and downright mad that a beautiful American Bald Eagle was gunned down right here in our own county in the past two weeks.
The story of the 3 1/2-year-old male eagle that suffered a serious gunshot wound has been documented on our pages and on our Web site. A few days later, the eagle was put down.
It's more than just a shame. It's a crime.
The injured eagle was reported to Conservation Officer Mike Gregg on Sunday, March 15 near the County Road 800W -- just north of County Road 600N in Smith Township, northeast of Linton.
Who would do such a senseless and stupid thing?
Someone did it and now Department of Natural Resources, State Conservation Officers and area law enforcement agencies need your help to find justice for the slaughtered eagle.
The eagle was alive with a serious wound to its wing and chest cavity when it was found. The bird was taken to a federally licensed rehabilitator, Return to the Wild, Inc., located in Nashville, Ind.
Much to the sadness of many who followed this story, the eagle had to be put down March 19. The injuries, according to the medical experts, were much too severe for the eagle to survive.
I talked on the telephone Wednesday morning to a resident, Debbie Baker, who raised a new question related to this horrible and senseless crime.
It appears there is a female American Bald Eagle who is nesting near County Road 100S -- just a few hundred yards from her dad, Gary Scott's residence -- on the north side of Beehunter Marsh. There is speculation among DNR folks that the gunned male eagle may be the nesting mate of this female bird.
She and others are concerned that if the dead eagle is a mate to the female eagle that is still nesting along County Road 100S that the health of both the mother and her eaglets -- which probably aren't hatched yet -- may be in danger.
I don't know a lot of eagles and their nesting practices, but with a little help from my computer and a quick search on Google showed me that if this is the mate to the eagle that was shot, then mother and her eaglets -- if they are hatched -- could be in big trouble.
The 35 days of incubation period duties are shared by both the male and female eagles, with the female spending most of the time on the nest. The male is most often charged with the chore of bring food and conifer branches to the nest for the brooding female parent.
During incubation, one of the eagle parents is always on the nest -- not only to keep the eggs warm, but to protect them from predators which will break open and eat the eggs.
Also during nesting season, it is both parents who protect the nesting area -- which can be up to two miles in radius.
What this means is, if the dead eagle is one of the parents associated with this nest, then the female is forced to stay on the eggs in the nest and not scavenge for food for herself or her young -- after they are hatched. She is probably going to die along with her young.
It's all speculation at this point, but a good guess is the thing is probably linked because the area where the injured male eagle was found and the location of the nest are within several miles -- as a bird flies.
Thursday afternoon, I took drive down to the area and observed the white-headed female American Bald Eagle sitting atop her nest in a leaf-barren tree -- not far from the county road.
It was a grand sight to see, but it was very sad knowing what I now know about eagles and their nesting habits.
I can't imagine that someone would shoot an eagle by accident. Or if it wasn't an accident, why in the world would someone do it?
While I was there, snapping several photos of the nesting site, I chatted with Chuck Davidson from the DNR, who was looking for any sign of a male eagle in the area who might actually be a nest mate to the "momma" eagle who obviously was waiting patiently for her new eaglets to be hatched.
They haven't seen a male eagle in the area for "about two weeks," he told me.
Gary Scott told me that he was shocked when he heard about the shot eagle and wondered out loud who in the world would do such a thing to our national symbol bird.
He hopes authorities catch the culprits responsible for this senseless and very stupid crime.
Like many other crimes, law authorities need to catch a break to solve this case. Oftentimes offering a reward is enough to jog someone's memory and provide that piece of key information that can lead to the arrest and conviction of the responsible parties.
DNR is offering a minimum of a $1,500 reward in connection with the case through its "Turn in a Poacher" program.
Greene County Crime Stoppers have also stepped up and are offering a cash reward to help catch the individuals or individuals who may have pulled the trigger some time before the afternoon of March 15 and shot the American Eagle.
DNR conservation officers have been interviewing area residents, but they could use your help.
They are urging anyone with information relating to this case to call the Turn in a Poacher hotline at 1-800-TIP-IDNR.
Or Greene County Crime Stoppers can be contacted by calling (812) TIP-LINE (847-5463).
Someone knows what happened and now is the time to talk about it.
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