ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Shelter experienced a heart-wrenching Christmas Eve when a juvenile bald eagle succumbed to its injuries from a gunshot wound in its wing. The shelter confirmed that the young eagle from Wythe County, weighing just under ten pounds, had been admitted after evading capture for over a week, surviving by feeding on deer carcasses.
According to the shelter, it took a collaborative effort from the Department of Wildlife Resources, Appalachian Wildlife Management, and concerned citizens to apprehend the injured eagle and transport it to the shelter. Despite multiple X-rays, the center determined that the bird’s injuries were caused by a gunshot wound, with bullet fragments lodged in its wing. Unfortunately, the damage was too severe to be repaired, leading to the eagle’s passing.
Chester Leonard, the executive director of SVWC, expressed deep sadness over the loss, emphasizing that animals deserve better treatment. Leonard also stated that the incident was not accidental and condemned the intentional act of shooting a bald eagle.
Shooting a bald eagle is considered a serious crime and carries significant penalties, including heavy fines and imprisonment for a first offense. The SVWC described the incident as a “horrific crime” and urged anyone with information to contact the Department of Wildlife Resources.
The tragic death of the young bald eagle has sparked outrage and calls for justice within the community, prompting authorities to take the necessary steps to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.