By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
Fish and Wildlife is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for confidential information leading to the arrest of the shooter or shooters.
The birds, an adult and an older juvenile, may have been related and were shot with a rifle apparently while perched on a branch near the Calawah River, Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Eric Anderson said Wednesday.
Eagle breeding season is just starting.
“Maybe it was the father and last year's offspring,” Anderson said.
The birds were located close together under a tree at a bend 200 yards from the Calawah River, Anderson said.
The tree under which they were found was visible from the “A” road, also known as U.S. Forest Service Road 29 east of U.S. Highway 101.
The closest known eagle territory contains two nest-trees and is located on Rayonier Inc. property approximately 1.2 miles downstream from where the birds were found, Fish and Wildlife biologist Shelly Ament said.
“We did find exit wounds on both birds,” she said.
“It's really disturbing to know there is an individual out there who may get some satisfaction from shooting and killing bald eagles,” she said.
“This is an illegal act, and our national symbol certainly deserves more respect.”
There are 185 known bald eagle territories in Clallam County and 117 in Jefferson County, Ament said.
Anyone with information about the case can phone Anderson at 360-640-0493 or the department enforcement hotline toll-free at 877-933-9847, or can text a tip to 847411.
“We are hoping for a lead,” Anderson said.
“We have two dead eagles who died in the last roughly two weeks and were shot with a rifle, and that is the total sum of leads we have right now,” he added.
An angler reported seeing the dead eagles, which were found about 20 feet apart in Game Management Unit 607, where cougar hunting is allowed until March 31.
The birds likely were shot from 50 to 100 yards away.
“I don't know that you would have just a general hunter do that,” Anderson said.
“Your general hunter population is pretty skookum.
“This is somebody that really doesn't care about the resources or wildlife.
“This would be someone who did it for the thrill of, 'I'm going to shoot something that is basically an endangered species.'”
Bald eagles were removed from the list of threatened or endangered species in 2007, but the bird is still protected under the following state law and two federal laws:
— Under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the maximum misdemeanor conviction on a first offense is up to one year in prison or a maximum fine of $100,000, or both.
A second violation is a felony with a possible jail term of two years or more and a fine based on the severity of the offense.
— Under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the maximum punishment is a misdemeanor fine of up to $5,000 or jail up to six months.
— Under state law, the maximum is a misdemeanor sentence of up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $3,000 in criminal and civil penalties.
“We will apply the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act first so prosecution is carried out under the most restrictive law,” said Miel Corbett, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Anderson said it did not appear that feathers or body parts were taken from the birds for traditional or monetary purposes.
“Nothing was taken or what have you,” he said.
“We believe the person simply shot them to kill them.
“It would appear to me that this was just happenstance.
“Maybe the person or persons saw them and just decided they wanted to shoot them.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.