ROANOKE, Va. – A young bald eagle succumbed to a gunshot wound on Christmas Eve at the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Shelter, prompting outrage and sadness among staff and the local community. The bird, which had been evading capture for more than a week, was admitted to the shelter after sustaining a severe injury to its wing. Despite efforts to save the eagle, it did not survive.
According to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center, the juvenile bald eagle weighed just under ten pounds and had been feasting on deer carcasses to evade capture. A combined effort from the Department of Wildlife Resources, Appalachian Wildlife Management, and concerned citizens was necessary to finally bring the eagle to safety.
After conducting multiple X-rays, the center confirmed that the bird’s injuries were caused by a gunshot wound, with bullet fragments found in its wing. Unfortunately, the damage was too severe for the bird to recover, leading to its tragic demise.
Chester Leonard, the executive director of the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center, expressed deep sadness over the loss and emphasized that such an incident was not an accident. He called the shooting of the bald eagle a “horrific crime” and urged anyone with information to contact the Department of Wildlife Resources. Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, shooting a bald eagle is considered a serious offense and can result in a hefty fine and imprisonment for the perpetrator.
The senseless death of the young bald eagle has sparked concern and renewed calls for stricter enforcement of wildlife protection laws. The tragedy serves as a reminder of the need to protect and preserve the nation’s wildlife for future generations.