Delaware officials believe that a bald eagle found dead last month in Sussex County was poisoned with pesticide meant to kill off animals considered pests.
The animal, and another bald eagle that ultimately survived, were found in a Delaware field in October.
Erica Miller is a veterinarian with Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research who treated the eagle that survived the poisoning. She says baiting and poisoning animals such as raccoons and foxes is not uncommon.
“In most cases the pesticide is put out in a carcass of an animal in order to attract the animal they’re trying to get rid of,” Miller said, adding that often farmers are trying to keep pests out of their chicken coops. “It’s possible the eagle ingested it directly, or it ingested an animal that ate the toxin.”
Any kind of scavenging bird can die by so -called secondary poisoning. But because bald eagles only came off the endangered species list three years ago, Bill Butcher, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says it is especially important to maintain their numbers.
“We take these types of cases very seriously,” Butcher said. “It’s against federal law to harm a bald eagle, even if it’s inadvertent.”
Federal and state agencies are offering a $4,500 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.