ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center experienced a sorrowful Christmas Eve when a young bald eagle succumbed to a gunshot wound in the wing. The eagle, a juvenile from Wythe County, weighing just under ten pounds, had been brought to the shelter after evading capture for over a week, surviving by eating deer carcasses.
The center confirmed that the bird’s injuries were from a gunshot wound, with bullet fragments in the wing. Tragically, the shattered bone was too severe to be fixed, and the beautiful bird died. “Sadly this magnificent bird was unable to recover from its injuries and did not make it,” said Chester Leonard, the executive director of SVWC.
Leonard stated the incident was no accident, expressing his belief that someone intentionally shot the bald eagle. Shooting a bald eagle is a serious crime—one that could result in a fine of $100,000, imprisonment for one year, or both, for a first offense. SVWC emphasized the severity of the situation, labeling it as a “horrific crime,” and urged anyone with information about the incident to contact the Department of Wildlife resources at 1-800-237-5712.
The death of the young bald eagle on Christmas Eve is a tragic reminder of the need to protect and preserve wildlife, as incidents like this represent significant losses to nature. Such acts of cruelty towards animals are not only illegal but also deeply saddening. As efforts to address the incident continue, authorities are committed to holding those responsible accountable for their actions and ensuring the safety and well-being of bald eagles and other wildlife.