By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
SMITHVILLE LAKE, MO (KCTV) -
A cash reward is being offered for information on the shooting of two bald eagles.
It's one of the most important symbols of freedom our nation has but lately someone has been shooting down the American bald eagle and now authorities need the public's help finding those responsible.
Smithville Lake is a beautiful body of water home to all sorts of wildlife and those looking to enjoy the scenery, but lately the Jack Rabbit Bend Trail that goes around it has been turned into a crime scene.
Missouri conservation agent Daniel Schepis is leading the investigation into the second deadly shooting of a bald eagle in the past few months. He said a horseback rider spotted the bird along the Jack Rabbit Bend Trail on Feb. 18 and called it in.
"The fact that the eagle was shot is very disheartening and disconcerting," Schepis said.
On Jan. 17 Missouri Department of Conservation agent Vincent Crawford found a dead eagle with the tip from a local citizen near Panther Creek in Caldwell County.
Bald eagles are a threatened species and protected under state and federal law. Schepis said there are several eagle nests in the area and they're a unique resource that must be protected.
"It takes away an opportunity from all the other members of the state and visitors who would otherwise come here and enjoy viewing eagles in a natural setting," he said.
Schepis said it's unlikely the birds were shot by mistake and he's hoping the cash reward will help lead to an arrest.
Shooting a bald eagle is a state and federal offense, which violate the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, a fine of up to $100,000 and not more than a one year incarceration or both. It also violates the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and not more than six months incarceration or both.
If you have any information in the Caldwell County shooting call agent Crawford at 660-605-2912 and for the Clay County shooting call agent Schepis at 816-392-4578. You can also call the Missouri Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-392-1111 to leave an anonymous tip.
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