ARLINGTON, Wash. – State wildlife officers are struggling to understand why anybody would shoot and kill a bald eagle.
Officers say that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday near Monroe in rural Snohomish County.
Trained volunteers tried saving the animal but its injuries were too severe.
“Animals don’t have anywhere else to go,” said Jessie Paolello, clinic manager at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center. “They’re going to keep coming closer and closer to people because we’re taking over their space.”
The bald eagle, likely about a year old, was rushed to the center with severe injuries after being shot.
“The spine suffered trauma as well as internal organs,” said Paolello. “We did everything we could to make sure the animal was comfortable and we gave it a shot. But unfortunately the trauma was too severe for it to survive.”
The clinic manager says X-rays show a pellet likely from a shotgun still lodged inside the animal.
Investigators say it happened near Roosevelt Road near Monroe on Wednesday, and that a witness heard a gunshot and saw the bird fall from the sky.
“We’ve been so lucky that the population has increased over the last 30 years, and taken off the endangered species list,” said WFDW Sgt. Jennifer Maurstad, “But we certainly don’t want to go backwards.”
State wildlife officials say it’s both a federal and state crime to kill or even harass bald eagles.
An adult bald eagle named Freedom lives at Sarvey. The volunteers say she shows what the bird could have grown into had someone not needlessly shot and killed it.
“To have them in your backyard, your field is actually lowering your chances of getting some sort of disease from vermin that could be overloaded,” said Paolello.
State wildlife officers say they investigated a similar incident five years ago near Granite Falls where someone shot and killed five bald eagles, but nobody was ever caught.
Now a $2,000 reward for information is being offered hoping someone might know the responsible party and turn them in to authorities.
“It’s incomprehensible that somebody would do this,” said Sarvey’s executive director Suzanne West. “This wasn’t a mistake.”
Anyone with information about this shooting is being asked to call the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife at 360-902-2928.