JUNCTION, Piute County — Wildlife officers are on the lookout for someone they say shot and killed a bald eagle.
Officer Josh Pollock said a woman discovered the bird on Church Farm Road, a back road connecting the towns of Kingston and Junction in rural Piute County, stuffed inside a cottonwood tree.
He said he doesn't believe the bird was accidentally killed, based on where they found it in relation to the road and the fact that it was intentionally stuffed in the tree. It had been hit with a small-caliber rifle, likely from the road about 75 yards away.
Bald eagles and other birds often come and sit in and around the trees in the area, Pollock said. This one was about 1 year old. They often live as long as 20 years.
The birds are not frequently poached. Pollock said this is his first confirmed case.
"We don't see it that often as far as someone poaching them, just out of respect that it's an eagle — most people figure that it's a big deal."
He said wildlife officers much more frequently find eagles killed by cars after feeding on roadkill. They have a tendency to get overfull, which makes it difficult for them to fly out of the way of vehicles.
Pollock said officers in Millard County have investigated several bald and golden eagle poachings.
"By (poaching), people are robbing a resource and opportunity from wildlife viewers," he said.
Utah is a favorite wintertime stopping place for bald eagles. They are more frequently seen near the Great Salt Lake, where picking carp out of Farmington Bay is an easy source of food during migrations.
Killing a bald eagle, the national bird, is prohibited by both state and federal laws. Previously listed as endangered or threatened, the bald eagle was de-listed in 2007, thanks in large part to conservation efforts.
Pollock has asked anyone with information regarding the incident to contact the Department of Wildlife Resources, especially those who live nearby. A tip line is available at 1-800-662-3337, and information can be provided anonymously.
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