Conservation police say the juvenile bald eagle found wounded in north central Illinois was shot, in violation of federal law that protects the formerly endangered species.
Barge pilot Rick Battaglia of Osage Marine and a deckhand spotted the disabled eagle Sunday struggling to fly on the Illinois River near Hennepin, according to CBS Chicago. Conservation police were able to recover the bird and transport it to Countryside Animal Clinic in Streator, where they found 10 pellets embedded in its broken wing.
The North Central Illinois News Tribune reports that the bird was found about 25 miles west of Starved Rock State Park, a reserve noted for its population of bald eagles and other rare birds.
Federal law prohibits injuring or killing bald eagles, which are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other regulations, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list after their population reached a stable level in 2007.
“He’s doing very well today,” Robert Harms, a veterinarian at the Streator clinic, told the Chicago Tribune. “This morning, he’s bright, strong, alert. Starting to be a little more aggressive today, which is good.”
The bird is expected to recover.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Illinois Department of Natural Resources hotline, at (877) 236-7529, or Illinois State Police, at (815) 224-1171.