Arrests pending for slaughter of bald eagles
7:22 PM, Jun. 3, 2011 |
BATON ROUGE — Two suspects in the shooting and decapitation of at least two bald eagles in Franklin Parish are being investigated and arrests are expected soon, says Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham.
One decapitated eagle was found in a drainage ditch April 3.
Wildlife agents also found a head “but the head doesn’t match the body we found,” Barham said Friday, so he knows at least two eagles were killed.
“We’re going to make life very uncomfortable for some people,” he told members of the Senate Finance Committee.
After the carcass was discovered April 3, DWF Capt. Alan Bankston said, “To see any protected animal decapitated in a ditch is disheartening enough, let alone the animal that represents our symbol of freedom.”
Barham said the DWF investigation has identified two people. “It’s complicated. There’s a juvenile involved so we have to be careful how we handle it.”
The juvenile said a relative was involved ,“but the relative denies it,” he said. “One of them is a resident of Texas, so we’re working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.”
“Why would you kill a bald eagle anyway and cut its head off?” Barham asks in disgust. “Were they going to mount it?”
The bald eagle is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. It was removed from “endangered” list in August 2007.
Barham said it depends on the judge as to what penalty would be imposed, but under the Southern Bald Eagle Protection Act, the maximum penalty for killing an eagle is 1 year in prison or $100,000 per bird.
“It can be multiplied,” he said. “I believe that killing a eagle, chopping its head off and throwing it in a ditch is about as egregious as you’re likely to see.”
The bald eagle also is afforded protection under three federal statutes: the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Killing or wounding an eagle has been held to be a violation of all three acts.
Under the Eagle Protection Act, killing an eagle carries a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment in a federal prison. Under the MBTA, it’s a maximum of two years imprisonment and $250,000 fine for a felony conviction or six months imprisonment or $5,000 fine for a misdemeanor conviction.