Thirteen bald eagles found dead near a farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore may have been poisoned, authorities say, in the largest single die-off of bald eagles in the state in 30 years.
Officials with the Maryland Natural Resources Police said they received a call around 2:30 p.m. Saturday from a man who said he was out looking for antlers that deer might have shed. The man came across what he initially thought was a dead turkey in a field on a farm in Caroline County. He discovered it was four dead bald eagles.
When officers arrived, they found nine additional dead bald eagles in the field on Laurel Grove Road in Federalsburg.
It was not immediately clear what had caused the birds to die, but there were “no obvious signs of trauma with these birds,” according to Candy Thomson, a natural resources police spokeswoman.
“A working theory is poisoning,” Thomson said Monday night. She added that someone may have sprayed a new chemical on a field that adversely affected the birds. Or someone may have used poison to kill rodents; if the rodents died outdoors and the eagles consumed their carcasses, the birds could get sick too.
“We just don’t know right now, which is why we’re asking the public if they heard anything, if they saw anything, we want to know about it,” Thomson said.
A reward of $2,500 is being offered for information in the case.
The discovery of 13 dead bald eagles was the largest single incident in decades for the state, officials said. At least three of the birds were mature, with the signature white heads and brown bodies. Two of the birds were close to being mature birds, officials said, and the rest were considered immature birds with no white feathers.
“It’s been 30 years since we’ve seen anything like this involving this many dead bald eagles,” Thomson said. “Three mature eagles, the ones we all love that look like the national bird, are gone.
“It’s sad that we have three eagles of mating ability that have been eliminated from our population.”
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Dana Hedgpeth and Julie Zauzmer