Mystery poisonings of 7 bald eagles prompt $10G reward offer in Maryland

Wildlife officials are offering up to $10,000 to solve the mystery of who killed at least seven bald eagles and one great horned owl in Maryland with an illegal poisonous substance.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday that six of the eagles and the owl died March 1.

About a month later, on April 3, another eagle died, while two others were sickened and are currently being treated, in stable condition. The eagles had been feeding on the carcass of a red fox.

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Wildlife officials are offering up to $10,000 to solve the mystery of how seven bald eagles and one great horned owl died in Maryland. (Reuters)<br data-cke-eol="1">

Wildlife officials are offering up to $10,000 to solve the mystery of how seven bald eagles and one great horned owl died in Maryland. (Reuters)<br data-cke-eol="1">

The authorities suspect the incidents are related to a deliberate effort to poison “nuisance animals” such as raccoons or foxes.

“It is suspected that these events are related as a result of unknown persons placing baits laced with carbofuran, one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides, in fields, along woods lines and even directly into fox dens," officials said.

“Carbofuran, sold under the trade name Furadan, is known to be particularly toxic to birds,” the statement added.

But authorities also say that the killing of the birds probably wasn’t part of the plan by whoever placed the traps.

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“Eagles probably are not the primary target of the poisoning,” officials said. “However, Furadan is so toxic that the eagles are secondarily poisoned after feeding on the poisoned primary target.”

“Eagles probably are not the primary target of the poisoning. However, Furadan is so toxic that the eagles are secondarily poisoned after feeding on the poisoned primary target.”

— The Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Even though bald eagles are no longer considered endangered, the wildlife authorities say the birds are still federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

“The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000 to eligible individuals for information that furthers this investigation,” the officials said.

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Those with information about illegal fishing and hunting activities as well as the illegal killing of wildlife can make an anonymous report to Maryland Wildlife Crime Stoppers by calling or texting, 443-433-4112, emailing mwc.dnr@maryland.gov, or report it via the department’s mobile app.