State and federal wildlife authorities are asking the public for help in determining who fatally shot a bald eagle.
Officials with the Maine Warden Service say the dead eagle was found on Chain Lake Boulevard, also known as Mill Road, in Day Block Township, located in Washington County.
The eagle was found inside a bucket tossed along a travel way. An X-ray of the eagle showed that it was riddled with dozens of shotgun pellets. The condition of the eagle's body indicates that it was killed several weeks ago, officials say.
Game Warden Alan Curtis says he doesn't think the bird was shot accidentally. He says it appears to have happened at fairly close range.
"It's not very often we see them get shot. They're a majestic bird. I mean it's kind of the symbol of our nation, somewhat, flying around and people have a great deal of respect for them," he says. "The amount of pellets that are in the bird, guessing it was a fairly close shot so it wasn't something, you know, that was a long ways away that could have been mistaken or whatever."
Due to ongoing intensive restoration efforts, the bald eagle is no longer listed as endangered or threatened. But in Maine it is still listed as a species of special concern, those considered especially vulnerable or at risk of becoming endangered or threatened. Some protections also remain for the bird at the federal level.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to a conviction. Maine Operation Game Thief is offering an additional $1,000 reward.