Deaths of 4 bald eagles near Granite Falls investigated

GRANITE FALLS — Wildlife agents are investigating the deaths of four bald eagles found floating in a lake east of Granite Falls.

“It was real apparent that three of them had been shot by a small caliber rifle,” state Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Jennifer Maurstad said. “My guess is all four were probably shot.”

The birds were found Jan. 9 and are being sent to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife lab to confirm how they died.

Maurstad did not disclose the exact location of the shootings, saying the case remains under investigation. She said they were spotted from a gravel road beneath some trees.

Three of the eagles were adults; the other, a juvenile.

In 11 years on the job, Maurstad said she has not encountered any other cases of people shooting eagles, although she is aware of reports that some people poach them for their feathers.

That was not the case this time.

“My guess is it was a crime of opportunity and somebody thought, ‘I can get away with this,’” she said.

Bald eagle populations have improved enough in recent decades that they were removed from protection status under the federal Endangered Species Act several years ago. However, they remain protected under other state and federal laws.

There are about 850 nesting pairs of bald eagles in Washington, according to government estimates.

“We have a robust population of bald eagles in Western Washington,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Doug Zimmer said.

The investigation of these eagle deaths likely will involve a forensic wildlife lab in Ashland, Ore., Zimmer said.

“If there is evidence to be gained, they will get it,” Zimmer said.

The lab work could provide useful information about trajectories and ballistics, he said.

Killing an eagle is a misdemeanor under federal law. It is also a state crime with a maximum penalty of $1,000 and 90 days in jail. Also, under state law, there’s a $2,000 fine per eagle.

The Stillaguamish Tribe, state Fish and Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States and Conservation Northwest have banded together to offer a $13,750 cash reward for the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for shooting the eagles, Maurstad said.

People can leave tips at 1-877-933-9847 or email reportpoaching@dfw.wa.gov.

“Somebody out there saw something or heard something,” Zimmer said. “It could be as simple as a vehicle description.”

Zimmer said whoever shot the eagles knew what he or she was doing.

“In terms of bald eagles, there is no question they are pretty hard to mistake for, say, a mallard duck,” Zimmer said. “This is not a case of someone accidentally shooting something or defending property. This is an example of someone shooting our national bird, our national symbol.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

More in Local News

Live in Edmonds? Hate speeders?

Edmonds has $35,000 to address local residents’ concerns about speeding in their… Continue reading

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Marysville quits fire-department merger talks

Mayor Jon Nehring notified Arlington of the decision in a letter dated Jan. 10.

Everett man accused of causing his baby’s brain damage

He told police he shook his son to get him to stop crying, and the boy slipped out of his hands.

Everett marchers: ‘There’s too much to protest’ for one sign

About 150 people joined the “March to Impeach” from the waterfront to a county courthouse rally.

Legislation to limit opioid prescriptions under debate

Inslee also has requested a bill that prioritizes medication-assisted treatment for addiction.

Sirens! Flashing lights! — Move over!

We are a confident bunch on what to do when we hear… Continue reading

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Residents are helping turn Casino Road in a new direction

An initiative backed by a $700,000 grant goes to the community for solutions to the area’s challenges.

Most Read