WASHINGTON — The deaths of more than a dozen bald eagles in Maryland may remain a mystery. Federal investigators said they intend to close the case soon for lack of evidence.
The 13 bald eagles were found dead on and around a farm in Federalsburg, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore on Feb. 20 — the largest single-day bald eagle die-off in Maryland in 30 years.
“Although we conducted a very thorough investigation into the Maryland eagle poisonings, we are intending to close the case in the near future due to a lack of evidence linking anyone to the crime,” said Neil Mendelsohn, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional assistant special agent in charge, in a statement.
Authorities have also been investigating the March 19 deaths of five bald eagles in Sussex County, Delaware.
In March, the agency’s forensics lab determined the Maryland birds did not die of natural causes.
Diseases such as bird flu were ruled out, which could have been a factor since many poultry farms and migratory birds are in that area of southern Caroline County near the Delaware boarder.
During early stages of the investigation, Maryland Natural Resources Police said one theory was that the birds were poisoned, possibly by someone spraying chemicals on a field, or by eating a rodent that had been killed with poison.
When the Maryland case is officially closed, a spokeswoman said FWS intends to share more details of the investigation
There’s a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever is responsible for the Maryland eagle deaths. A portion of that reward, including $5,000 put up by the American Bird Conservancy, could be made available in the Delaware case, according to state officials.
Anyone with information can call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: 410-228-2476. Maryland’s DNR Police tip line number at 410-260-8888. The Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources “Operation Game Theft” tip line is 1-800-292-3030.