WASHINGTON — He’d seen his first bald eagle soaring above the Patuxent River near his Montgomery County home. Then, days later, he was horrified to learn that two had been shot — one in Brookeville and another in Darnestown.
Now, the Montgomery County resident, who wants to remain anonymous, has stepped up to offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police Captain David Larsen says the reward could be very helpful. “A lot of times, suspects will brag — people will hear things through the rumor mill. We want that information,” Larsen says.
The department pursues poaching cases very aggressively and tips can be offered anonymously. Bald eagles are not endangered, but they are federally protected.
According to a news release from the Department of Natural Resources Police, bald eagles are pairing off at this time of year, and will lay eggs in late February or early March. Those eggs could be hatching by April. The birds can be found in every county in Maryland.
“I can remember my early days as an officer riding in a vessel on boat patrol on the Pocomoke River, I must have counted over 40 bald eagles.” Larsen says the birds are a vital part of the ecosystem, and “they are certainly a resource we want to keep here in Maryland.” Along with their role as predators, Larsen says, “They’re very majestic birds.”
Shooting bald eagles is punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
Anyone with information on the Brookeville shooting is asked to call the NRP catch-a-poacher hotline at 800-635-6124. Tips on the Darnestown shooting can be called into the Department of Natural Resources Communications Center at 410-260- 8888.