The Illinois Department of Natural Resources in conjunction with the McLean County Crimestoppers unit are seeking information on an eagle that was fatally wounded a few weeks ago in central Illinois.
The two departments are working together to solve the case of an eagle that was shot and found in a field in rural McLean County March 14. According to DNR Conservation Officer John Williamson, the eagle was fatally shot and subsequently taken into the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur where it later died.
Williamson explains, initially, they were not sure what the issue with the eagle was. He adds it can sometimes be hard to determine an injury with an eagle, especially involving blood, because the feathers of the bird can absorb a lot of it.
Eagles are no longer considered endangered or threatened list, however, Williamson explains eagles are a federally monitored species, which he notes, makes this case and dealing with eagles completely different from dealing with other crimes.
Williamson notes laws surrounding eagles are very strict and explains the eagle that ended up dying had been injured before and had also recently laid eggs. According to Williamson, they have located the nest and feel the eggs are in good hands currently.
In the search for leads in the investigation, Williamson explains they have had several other cases come about because of tips they are getting. He notes working in conjunction with Crimestoppers is a new experience for their department, and so it has created other eagle shootings they will also investigate.
Williamson says it upsets him to come across cases like the one being investigated right now. He felt when he first started he'd only deal with these types of cases on an infrequent basis, however, he is shocked at how many of these cases he deals with each year.
To report any information on this case, you can contact the McLean County Crimestoppers at 309-828-1111. A reward of $1000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.
For tips on this case or any hawks or eagles that may be shot or wounded, tips can be submitted to the Illinois Poachers Target line at 877-236-7529.