A maimed bald eagle was found in a plastic bag – and now officials are offering a reward for information on who's responsible.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the eagle was "found in a plastic bag, breasted out, with its talons and a portion of one leg missing" on the Minnesota Department of Transportation property south of Albert Lea in Freeborn County.
Tina Shaw, a spokesperson for the agency, told the Pioneer Press that the breast meat of the eagle was cut out similar to the way a hunter would take the meat off a duck or pheasant.
Shaw added that whoever did this left behind the most valuable part of the bird – its feathers, the paper says. Oregon Public Radio reported a single bald eagle feather sold for $500 in 2011.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, is conducting a criminal investigation into the eagle's death.
Bald eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Anyone who kills or possesses all or part of a bald eagle could face up to a year in prison or a fine up to $100,000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes.
There's a $2,500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible.
People can provide information about the investigation by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at 651-778-8360 or the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-652-9093.
Minnesota has the third-largest bald eagle breeding population among the 50 states, the DNR says. There are an estimated 1,312 mating pairs in Minnesota, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's website shows.