ANAHUAC, Texas (FOX 26) - In Chambers County, a bald eagle, the national emblem of the United States of America, was found with what appears to be a gunshot wound to the face. A reward is being offered for information that would lead to the arrest of the person who law enforcement agencies believe shot the eagle deliberate.
The eagle was found on a family farm near Fort Anahuac Park. The bird was taken to the Wildlife Center of Texas but unfortunately had to be euthanized based on the extent of his injuries.
"He was in really bad shape, a lot of blood around the head, the beak was totally broken off," says Sharon Schmalz, Wildlife Center of Texas executive director. She also says the eagle would not have been able to survive on his own because "he was emaciated" and in a "very, very weakened condition."
"It's very sad to see something like this happened," adds Schmalz. "There are not a lot of bald eagles out there."
There are less than 70,000 bald eagles in all of North America, according to estimates.
A reward is being offered for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot the bird, which serves as a national symbol.
"That's our national bird and we're proud of it and they're beautiful, so I can't even imagine why somebody would want to shoot a bald eagle," says Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne. He also says the person believed to have shot the eagle may have acted intentionally, based on his office's investigation. If found, the shooter(s) could face both federal and state criminal charges.
"It's definitely a cruelty to animals charge when you essentially take the beak of of an animal," adds Sheriff Hawthorne.
It is duck and geese hunting season, but given the distinct characteristics of a bald eagle, it's likely the suspected shooter knew what kind of bird he or she was aiming at.
"A bald eagle is pretty hard to mistake -- this particular eagle is a full adult," says Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden Tim Cooper. "It had a white head, very distinct and it's very large."
The bird has been transported to a laboratory in Oregon for an autopsy where his cause of death will be confirmed.
Anyone with information about the bald eagle shooting is encouraged to contact Chambers County Crime Stoppers by phone at 844-860-8477 or Texas Wildlife Crime Stoppers Operation Game Thief at 800-792-4263. Each of the two organizations are offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting. If the suspect is found guilty, he or she could face hefty criminal and state charges and may have to pay up to 100,000 dollars in restitution fees.