Golden Eagle Found Shot & Robbed of Its Tail Feathers at Navajo Agricultural Products Industry Farmland

Photo courtesy of Hawks Aloft, Inc. – A golden eagle, shot at the NAPI farmland in 2018, is photographed after receiving medical attention.

Published January 13, 2019

WINDOW ROCK — A golden eagle that was found with a gunshot wound and all of its tail feathers plucked, has died from the wounds it received.

An adult eagle, at least four years old, was found at the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, and taken to the Navajo Nation Zoo on Dec. 8, said its manager Dave Mikesic.

“The department, the zoo, is looking for help from local residence that may know something or have seen something,” he said on Friday. “There is a substantial reward being offered for any information that leads to the arrest of the people that are doing this. Bottom line is we want it to stop, we want it to stop right now.”

Hawks Aloft, Inc., released a statement and wrote Navajo Nation zoo officials estimated the eagle lived for at least a week or more before it was found by a NAPI security officer.
The security officer called rescuers and was taken to the zoo in Window Rock where it was given medical attention.

Photo courtesy of Kariana Atkinson, DVM and Petroglyph Animal Hospital
An X-ray of a golden eagle shows bullet fragments in its left wing. The eagle was found by a NAPI security officer, according to Gail Garber with Hawks Aloft, Inc.

After it was treated, the raptor was en route to Hawks Aloft when it died.

A post-mortem examination was conducted by Dr. Kari Atkinson at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital where she determined the bird has been shot in the left wing near its shoulder. She also determined the bird was severely emaciated.

The bird was turned over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement for further investigation.

“Basically there’s a lot of frustration and disgust,” Mikesic said. “It’s incredibly illegal, it’s incredibly painful for the bird to have its feathers plucked while it’s alive, to be shot out of the air and then to die a slow painful death, and being starved to death. It’s just horrible.”

Golden eagles and bald eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and $100,000 per individual, or $200,000 per organization for the first offense, while the Migratory Bird Treaty Act carries a maximum penalty that ranges from six months to a 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.

In 2018, three eagles – two golden eagles and a bald eagle – were shot, all with their tail feathers plucked during the season of the first cries of the eaglet known as wóózhch’į́į́d. All three birds were found all on NAPI farmland.

Mikesic wouldn’t comment on any investigations that might be going but said anyone with information info any of the shootings can call their local law enforcement agency or Operation Game Thief at 928-221-9114. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can also be contacted at 505-346-7828.

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

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