Federal wildlife authorities have started an investigation into the discovery of 13 dead bald eagles in a farmland location in Caroline County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore this past weekend. This is a tremendous loss and the biggest death tally of bald eagles in Maryland over the last 30 years. It is possible that all 13 bald eagles were poisoned, but this is only speculation by Maryland Natural Resources Police. The exact cause of the eagles’ deaths are not yet known or confirmed by authorities who were originally alerted via a phone call.
The location where the birds of prey were discovered is a farm property on Laurel Grove Road in Federalsburg that is situated west of the Idylwild Natural Area of around 3,800 acres. A local man seeking shed white tail antlers on the outskirts of the farm came across what he mistakenly thought was a dead turkey or vulture. It turned out to be a deceased bald eagle. Worse, there were three additional dead eagles nearby.
Officials were called to the scene. They photographed their findings and thoroughly searched the area for clues or possible evidence, and found an additional nine dead bald eagles. More images were taken at the scene, the 13 birds were tagged, and the matter was turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to commence their investigation. Authorities found no clear reason for the deaths of the bald eagles at the scene, and there were “no obvious signs of trauma with these birds,” according to Candy Thomson, a natural resources police spokeswoman.
On Monday night Thomson told media, “A working theory is poisoning,” The immediate thought was that the field may have been sprayed with some chemical that proved harmful to the eagles. Perhaps the birds got into rodent poison or the eagles foraged on rodents killed by poison. Officials have not released whether they suspect the birds were intentionally killed.
Thomson said at least six investigators were working the case. The remains of the dead eagles have been sent to an Oregon lab, generally considered the best available. She noted that a reward was offered for any information in this case. Anyone with information is asked to call 410-228-2476.
There is an early inconsistency about the exact amount of the reward – sources have posted the reward at $2,500 while others list the reward at $10,000. The takeaway is that a reward has been offered and the actual amount will soon stabilize.
Authorities found eight bald eagles dead in Maryland some thirty years ago. They believe those birds had been poisoned. Two years ago, Maryland had a case in which two bald eagles were shot and killed in Montgomery County. In the weekend incident, at least three of the birds were fully mature, with the signature white heads and brown bodies and white tail. Two others were nearly mature birds, and the rest were considered immature birds without white feathers. Authorities said:
It’s been 30 years since we’ve seen anything like this involving this many dead bald eagles. Three mature eagles, the ones we all love that look like the national bird, are gone. It’s sad that we have three eagles of mating ability that have been eliminated from our population.
In 2007 bald eagles were taken off the federal list of endangered species but are still deemed a protected species under several other acts.
Again, please use 410-228-2476 to call in with any information.
Another video is offered here.