Wildlife authorities probe deaths of 2 bald eagles - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Wildlife authorities probe deaths of 2 bald eagles

BLEDSOE COUNTY, TN (NBC) - Tennessee Wildlife officials are hunting down leads in the deaths of two bald eagles that were found dead within a month.

The first was found in the area of Bledsoe County. The other was discovered approximately 30 miles away in the Crab Orchard community of Cumberland County.

It has many wildlife officials wondering if the national symbol is under attack.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Agent Mark Patterson is sick to his stomach. He found the first eagle in Bledsoe County.

The TWRA is offering almost $9,000 for info leading to an arrest on each bird.

Local residents are angry, with many of them saying they would give back the reward money if they could help officials make an arrest.

"To go out and just purposely kill our nation's symbol, that's wrong," said local hunter Mickey Gooden.

The bald eagle was moved off the endangered species list in 2007 and onto the threatened species list because they've been making a comeback.

Still, killing one is a federal offense punishable by up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Patterson believes who ever shot these birds knew exactly what they were doing and Gooden feels the same way.

It takes four to five years for a bald eagle to develop the one of a kind white head and tail feathers, and both were clearly mature bald eagles.

Copyright 2011 NBC. All rights reserved.

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