The bald eagle found shot last week along the West Penn Trail in Derry Township has been euthanized, according to state wildlife officials.
Pennsylvania Game Commission Game Warden Bill Brehun said Monday it appeared the eagle had been shot by a small-caliber rifle on Thursday or Friday. Brehun said the bird had to be euthanized because of skull injuries.
West Penn Trail Council member Cliff Wissinger discovered the bird and called the Game Commission Friday evening. Another council member, Bill Rodgers, went to the trail to photograph the bird and help out. He and his wife, Dorothy Pierini-Rodgers, are offering a reward of at least $500 for information leading to prosecution of the person responsible.
A GoFundMe campaign raising money to pay for the veterinary costs and fund a reward for information had raised $1,516 toward its goal of $1,000 as of this morning.
Brehun retrieved the eagle Friday and took it to Humane Animal Rescue Wildlife Center in Verona.
“They assessed the bird and the decision was made that there really wasn’t anything they could do with it, so they euthanized it,” Game Warden Supervisor Patrick Snickles said. “It is an ongoing investigation and we did put out our own Facebook post asking people if anybody has any information to please come forward.”
Anyone with information should report it to the Southwest Region Office at 724-238-9523 or call the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-888-PGC-8001.
The Operation Game Thief Hotline is a toll-free, 24-hour service where information related to suspected wildlife crimes can be anonymously reported.
Bald eagles were removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in 2007.
“In Pennsylvania, the bald eagle is still a protected bird. The initial offense sounds very minor, the initial offense would be a summary offense of the fifth degree,” Snickles said. “It’s a $100 to $200 fine, however, we still have the ability by regulation to impose a $2,500 replacement cost with that fine.”
Bald eagles also remain protected at the federal level under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act includes “civil penalties for violating provisions of the act to a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction. Felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment.”
Penalties under the MBTA include a maximum of two years imprisonment and $250,000 fine for a felony conviction and six months imprisonment or $5,000 fine for a misdemeanor conviction, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.
Information from the Associated Press appears in this article.