(Courtesy: The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota)
GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WUSA9) -- Maryland Natural Resources Police seeks the public's help on information related to the fatal shootings of two bald eagles near Gaithersburg in Montgomery County.
On Christmas day, one eagle was found shot with a rifle in a field that adjoins Georgia Avenue and Bordley Road in Brookville. The bird was feeding on a deer carcass at the time of the incident.
On Saturday morning, officials found a wounded eagle. The bird was hurt from shootings with bird pellets near a residence on Deakins Lane in Darnestown. The bird later died of its injuries, according to Candy Thomson, spokesperson for MD Natural Resources Police.
"It's unusual to have them so close together. But eagles get shot by accident on purpose. On most cases it's a case of mistaken identity, people think they're vultures or some other bird of prey. In some incidences though, it's just wanton destruction, somebody having a good time which is unfortunate," Thomson said.
It is illegal to shoot eagles without a permit. If convicted, the maximum fine is of $5,000 and up to one year in prison.
Investigators believe the shootings are unrelated.
Anyone with information should call MD Dept. of Natural Resources: 410-260-8888.
Callers can remain anonymous by using the Catch-A-Poacher hotline: 1-800-635-6124.
In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act, and Maryland followed suit in 2010.