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Updated 11/2/11 – 8:36 p.m.
HENNEPIN, Ill. (CBS) — A juvenile bald eagle was on the mend Wednesday after being shot in north central Illinois.
CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports that police weren’t sure exactly where the bird was when it was shot on Sunday, but the bald eagle was just taken off the endangered species list four years ago and shooting one is a serious crime. It is against federal law to injure or kill a bald eagle.
“There’s no reason why anyone would shoot an eagle,” Illinois Conservation Police Sgt. Robert Frazier said.
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But police said that’s exactly what someone did. A person working on a tugboat spotted the bird, about 25 miles west of Starved Rock State Park near Hennepin.
As a chilly rain fell, the young eagle struggled along a river bank, unable to fly.
“Most likely it was probably done by a waterfowl hunter, because waterfowl season is going on right now,” Frazier said. “And I would have to guess that somebody probably … they were probably bored and just took a shot at it. I don’t think that it was an accident.”
At first, police thought the bird was suffering from a broken wing, but they took it to a veterinarian who X-Rayed it and found ammo lodged in its chest.
“There were 10 shotgun pellets inside the breast of the eagle,” Frazier said.
Since the eagle is so young, it lacks the trademark white head and tail of an adult bald eagle.
“I think they probably thought it was a red tail hawk and they just shot at it,” Frazier said.
The bird was recovering at an animal hospital in Countryside on Wednesday.
Police said they hope it can be returned to the wild someday to soar in the skies once more and that the person who pulled the trigger will be brought to justice.
“Without the public’s help, this is probably going to be a crime that we’re not going to be able to solve,” Frazier said.
A $1,000 reward is being for information leading to the arrest of a suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call Bureau-Putnam County Crimestoppers at 815-925-7412.
The person who pulled the trigger could face a fine of up to $100,000 and up to a year in jail.