UPDATE 3 p.m. Feb. 5, 2021: Georgia Department of Natural Resources Communications Manager Mark McKinnon confirms to Grady Newsource that the eagle was not shot but rather died from lead poisoning. “No foul play is expected now. There is currently no investigation. Just an unfortunate event,” McKinnon said. Upon further examination, the pellets were found in the gizzard, which ultimately led them to this conclusion.
Authorities are investigating the shooting of a bald eagle found in Oglethorpe County. The eagle was rushed to the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital by Oglethorpe County resident and licensed falconer Ben Hill, where it later died.
A physical exam of the eagle showed Hill that there was nothing out of the ordinary, but he still knew something was off.
“The pellets must have penetrated so far that just in my physical exam I couldn’t feel it because they were inside the actual meat of the bird,” said Hill.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sgt. Mark Patterson later confirmed pellets were found inside the bird.
“It’s just sad that someone was looking down the barrel, and knew what they were looking at, and still committed to pulling the trigger,” Hill Said.
While bald eagles are no longer an endangered species, there are still fines and penalties for disturbing them.
If you have information about the case, please contact Georgia DNR at 1-800-241-4113.
Jared Eggleston and Xavier Hood are seniors majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
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