OGDEN — State conservation officers are asking for the public's help in figuring out who shot a juvenile bald eagle in Summit County found injured earlier this month.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources first received a tip of an injured bald eagle near Henefer on April 2, agency officials said Friday.
Shortly after the tip was reported, a Utah State Parks ranger and a Utah Highway Patrol trooper assisted by responding to the area. They located the injured bird along a frontage road near the Weber River west of I-84.
The bird was then taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden, where experts there determined it had been shot by a "small-caliber firearm," according to DWR officials. The incident is believed to have occurred sometime around mid-March.
"The bullet entered the ride side of the bird, breaking one of its wings, and the bullet was lodged in the bird's neck," officials wrote in a statement Friday.
Staff at the rehabilitation center successfully removed the bullet in surgery on April 9, which was conducted once the bird was strong enough to undergo surgery. State wildlife officials said Friday that the bird is still "doing well" in its recovery.
While bald eagles are no longer an endangered species, the national bird is still federally protected by other laws, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act. Those acts protect bald eagles and golden eagles, as well as their feathers, nests, nesting trees and winter/nighttime roosts.
"Please help pass the word that it is against federal and state laws to shoot ANY native bird, ANYWHERE in the United States without a license," Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah wrote on April 5. "While you can hunt (in season only) certain waterfowl and gamebirds, most birds you cannot get a license to kill. This makes it illegal to shoot, harm, disturb birds like Hummingbirds, Robins, Magpies, etc., etc., etc. These are all Native Birds."
Rehab facility officials added at the time that there was enough information from the bald eagle shot to make it a felony case. Utah's criminal code also lists a $1,000 restitution fine for the wanton destruction of a bald eagle. It's among the highest restitution fines for non-trophy animal species.
Anyone who may have any information regarding who shot the bald eagle is encouraged to contact state conservation officers by calling the DWR's UTiP hotline at 800-662-3337 or calling DWR conservation officer Jeremy Wilcox at 385-288-2112.
Tips can also be sent through the DWR's law enforcement app, through its website or by texting 847411. The agency said requests for confidentiality will be respected and that rewards will be available for information that leads to a conviction.