A landowner found a full grown bald eagle shot to death Jan. 7 on his property near Viola in western Fulton County.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Officer Scott Watkins said the eagle has been sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lab for ballistics testing. He said the type of weapon used to kill the eagle is unknown at this time.
Watkins said the landowner had seen eagles flying around the area feeding on a decayed deer carcass close to a county road. He theorizes the suspect drove by the property, saw the bird and shot it.
The general appearance of the eagle's body indicated it hadn't been dead long before the property owner discovered it. He said it was probably killed the same day it was found or possibly the day before.
Watkins is coordinating the investigation along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers in Conway regarding this case and another incident involving the shooting of a bald eagle last month.
On Christmas Eve an injured bald eagle was captured by two fishermen on the Spring River near Imboden. The bird is recovering from a gunshot wound under the care of Dr. Archie Ryan, a Jonesboro veterinarian and licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
"We have had a few leads trickle in but there are no official suspects at this time," Watkins said. He said officials are working from the ground up on both cases but said he didn't believe there was any connection with the dead eagle and the injured eagle found Christmas Eve.
A reward of up to $2,500 has been offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and up to $1,000 from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission can be paid to persons who supply information leading to a conviction in the death of the eagle.
Watkins said federal and state penalties can be assessed for killing or injuring eagles. The national symbols are protected under several laws. One of these, the federal Eagle Act, allows a fine up to $100,000 and/or a year in jail for killing an eagle. A second offense carries an even higher penalty.
Anyone with information on the killing of the eagle found in Fulton County is urged to contact Watkins at 870-895-4947, the Fish and Wildlife Service at 501-513-4474, or the Game and Fish Commission's 24-hour hot line at 1-800-482-9262. All information will be kept confidential and the caller's identity will be protected.