Eagle Shootings at NAPI Under Investigation, Reward Offered

Hawks Aloft | Courtesy photo
A golden eagle the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say was shot in NAPI on March 21, sits with its wing wrapped inside a cage. Officials say a second bird, which was shot on March 13, died from its injuries. A $3,000 reward is being offered.

Published March 25, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE – Two eagles were shot at Navajo Agricultural Products Industry and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating.

A bald eagle and golden eagle found at NAPI. The bald eagle was found shot with no tail feathers on March 13 in Area 7 of NAPI. The bald eagle later died due to its injuries. The service’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory will conduct a necropsy to verify the cause of death.

On March 21, an adult male golden eagle was found shot with no tail feathers in Area 1 of NAPI. One of the golden eagle’s wings was amputated at the wrist. The bird is currently recovering but will not be released back into the wild on account of its injuries.

Anyone with information regarding the shootings of these eagles is asked to contact the service’s Office of Law Enforcement in Albuquerque, New Mexico (505-346-7828), or the Navajo Nation Department of Fish & Wildlife/ Navajo Nation’s Operation Game Thief (928-221-9114).

Callers with information may remain anonymous.

The service is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shootings of these eagles.

Bald eagles were removed from Endangered Species Act protection in June 2007 after being declared recovered, due in part to habitat protection and protection from human-caused disturbance.

According to the Navajo Nation Eagle Sanctuary, bald eagles are year-round residents of the Navajo Nation and are considered sacred to the Navajo people. They’re regarded as guardians or messengers between people and the Creator.

The eagle sanctuary said federally-recognized Native Americans can legally own an eagle feather if they’ve been gifted from another Native American, distributed through the Navajo Nation Feather Distribution process from a Federal Repository in Commerce City, Colorado, or the Navajo Nation Zoo, which is in Window Rock.

It becomes illegal to own the feathers when they’re sold for a profit, or owned or possessed by a person who is not a member of a federally-recognized Native American tribe.

Bald eagles and golden eagles remain protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Taking, shooting, injuring or killing an eagle are violations of these acts.

The maximum penalty for a criminal violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act is one year in jail and $100,000 per individual or $200,000 per organization for the first offense.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act carries maximum penalties ranging from six months to one year in jail and fines of up to $250,000 per individual, depending on whether an individual is convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony.

If anyone knows someone is hunting the protected birds, to call their local police department or the Navajo Nation Department of Fish & Wildlife at 928-871-6450/6451.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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