LOCAL NEWS

Wildlife officers seek information after bald eagle was found shot in southern Utah

Apr 9, 2024, 12:49 PM | Updated: 2:27 pm

Utah conservation officers are asking for the public's help in their investigation into a case invo...

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

CEDAR CITY — Utah conservation officers are asking for the public’s help in their investigation into a case involving a bald eagle that was illegally shot in February.

The eagle was later euthanized because of its injuries.

The investigation began on Feb. 29 when an injured bald eagle was discovered near 4500 West in Cedar City, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials said on Tuesday. The area where the bird was located is west of the growing city’s population core and west of its airport.

The agency said conservation officers determined that the eagle had been shot through the wing, likely by someone with a rifle. Wildlife experts also determined the injuries were severe and the eagle would not recover, so the bird was euthanized.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 435-310-0238 or the agency’s tip line at 1-800-662-3337. Tips can also be submitted through different online or mobile options the agency has set up.

Bald eagles often migrate to the region and other parts of Utah in the winter to avoid cold conditions north of the state before migrating north again in the spring and summer. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources even held a bald eagle viewing event near Cedar City a few weeks before the incident.

The species also has both state and federal protections barring people from hunting the animal under most circumstances. While not considered a trophy animal, the punishment for illegally killing a bald eagle is among the highest of nontrophy animals in Utah.

Change in punishment

Under a new law that will go into effect this year, the punishment for illegally killing a bald eagle will switch from a $1,000 fine to 1,000 points in a system that determines the severity of a poaching case. Anything above 500 points counts as a third-degree felony. Bison, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goats, moose, bears, peregrine falcons and endangered species are the only other nontrophy animals with as many points on Utah’s new scale.

The federal government also passed the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in 1940. The law prohibits anyone from shooting, shooting at, poisoning, wounding, trapping, collecting or capturing either species, as well as taking their feathers, nests or eggs without permission from the Secretary of the Interior.

That’s on top of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which bans anyone from taking any protected migratory bird species without authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first.

Illegally taking bald eagles can result in more than just fines. In 2022, a Utah man was sentenced to serve nearly four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to killing at least 10 eagles without authorization and illegally possessing a gun.

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Wildlife officers seek information after bald eagle was found shot in southern Utah