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

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Jayden Hill, 15, an incoming sophomore at Monroe High School is reflected in the screen of a cellphone on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Come fall, Monroe students must silence their cellphones in class

Elementary and middle school students won’t be allowed to use phones in schools. High schoolers will have more leeway.

Members of “Everett Deserves a Raise” group turn in their signed patients to the the clerk at City Hall on Thursday, July 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett minimum wage initiative submits signatures to get on ballot

Meanwhile, another group is leading a campaign for a similar local measure, but with a few notable differences.

The winner of the 2023 Great Mukilteo Dog Show at Lighthouse Park in Mukilteo. (Photo provided by Kandace Barnes)
All dogs are show dogs at the Great Mukilteo Dog Show on Saturday

The mayor “double dog” dares you to attend. Categories include Best Wiggles and Most Slobbery at the show at Lighthouse Park.

Cane's box combo (Photo provided by Raising Cane’s)
Attention all Caniacs: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers is headed to Lynnwood

The Southern chain with 750 restaurants is finally coming to Washington, with locations also planned in Renton and Seattle.

State regulators photographed these Allways Roofing employees working on top of a house in Mount Vernon, Wash. without wearing proper fall protection. (Washington State Department of Labor & Industries)
Snohomish roofing firm racks up more safety violations, fined $345K

Allways Roofing has been cited and fined for 124 safety violations in the last 12 years. The owner said he’s been closed since January.

A Ziply Fiber truck is parked outside Darrington Fire District Station 38 during a press conference and groundbreaking for the SR 530 Broadband Project on Wednesday, June 26, 2024, outside Darrington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Broadband coming to these rural Snohomish County locales

The county and Ziply Fiber are again partnering to provide high-speed internet, this time to Verlot and Index.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.