Editor’s note: While we generally reserve space on ArkansasOutside.com for outdoor recreation issues and events in Arkansas, this story reminds us that much of joy we have in being outdoors is enhanced by the wildlife we see while riding, hiking, paddling, running, etc. Please share this story.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.— The Center for Biological Diversity today increased the reward to $15,000 for information leading to a conviction for the illegal killing of four bald eagles in northern Arkansas.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a $5,000 reward last month, and the Center is boosting the amount by $10,000.
“We grieve the senseless and illegal killing of these majestic birds and want the perpetrator brought to justice,” said Will Harlan, a senior scientist at the Center. “This cowardly act against America’s national bird can’t go unpunished. I hope someone steps forward with information.”
A joint investigation by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the bald eagles were shot between mid-January and mid-February. Evidence suggests the birds were shot from County Road 3021 near the rural town of Pyatt, in Marion County, Arkansas, in the southern Ozarks.
In addition to the bald eagles, authorities found red-tailed hawks, a domestic dog, and white-tailed deer in the vicinity that had also been shot and killed.
Bald eagles are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Violations of these acts carry maximum criminal penalties of up to a $250,000 fine and two years in federal prison.
Bald eagles nest in Arkansas, and they also follow waterfowl that migrate south into Arkansas during the winter months.
Anyone with information about the killings should contact the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Conway Office of Law Enforcement at (501) 513-4470 or the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at (833) 356-0824.
Bald eagles are the only eagles unique to North America, and they have been a major success story in American conservation. The bald eagle was chosen by Congress as the nation’s symbol in 1782 and was subject to widespread extermination efforts for the next two centuries. When the story of bald eagles’ poisoning by the pesticide DDT was popularized in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a nascent environmental movement rallied around them. The bald eagle was among the first species listed under the 1967 precursor to today’s Endangered Species Act.
The bald eagle’s comeback has been a strong testament to the power of the Endangered Species Act. As a result of habitat protection, the federal government’s banning of DDT, and national conservation efforts, the bald eagle was delisted under the Act in 2007.
Bald eagles have a wingspan of 7 feet and can live more than 30 years in the wild. They develop their iconic white head around age four. Adults mate for life and raise their young together. Illegal shootings, habitat destruction, and lead poisoning remain the primary threats to their survival today.