MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Desoto County and federal authorities are looking for the person who shot a bald eagle off 269 at the Desoto County/Marshall County line.
The Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. said the eagle was shot in the eye and had surgery to repair a broken wing. Debbie Crum, executive director of Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, said some Desoto County employees discovered the wounded eagle.
“They saw him out there walking around on the ground and thought that isn’t right,” said Crum. “So, they walked out there and noticed when he tried to get away that he could not fly. He definitely had a wing injury. I went out there and caught the bird, and when I caught him, that’s when I noticed the eye.”
Crum said a FedEx pilot volunteered to fly the eagle in his private plane to the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge, where it will be rehabilitated.
She said the four-year-old eagle can no longer see out of the injured eye.
“Because he is an adult, it is very possible he will be able to adapt to that. As an adult, he’s already learned how to hunt and get his food. It’s going to take a little bit, but he can definitely adapt, and that’s one of the things he will do at the American Eagle Foundation is be able to be tested in a larger area to make sure he can hunt and fend for himself,” said Crum.
Bald eagles are federally protected. Crum said penalties for those who harm the birds include a maximum of five years behind bars, a $250,000 fine for felony convictions, and a maximum of $10,000 fine for civil violations.
Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation is a non-profit organization in Desoto County that takes up to 1,000 injured birds annually. Crum said she can’t understand why someone would shoot a majestic eagle.
“There is no mistaking that bird. It is a very large bird with a white head and a white tail, you know? There is no mistaking it was something else. But, even if it was something else, it is still illegal to shoot,” Crum said.
Crum said after the eagle is rehabilitated, it will be released in Desoto County. She said her group is trying to raise money to build a large flight cage that would allow them to treat injured eagles found in North Mississippi in the future.
If you would like to donate to the cause, click here. If you have any information that could help authorities find the person who shot the eagle, you are urged to call (601)-432-2170.