Bald eagle found shot in the head (VIDEO)

WARNING: Video contains a graphic image.

Authorities in Chatham County, North Carolina, are searching for the person responsible for shooting a bald eagle in the head.

The bird was found Monday by the North Carolina Highway Patrol on the side of the road. The animal was taken to the North Carolina Zoo, where Veterinarian JB Minter confirmed the bird was killed by a gunshot to the head.

“There was a clear entry wound and a clear exit wound,” said Master Officer Claude Smith with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “It’s disappointing to see something like this.”

Smith said they have not ruled out the possibility that the animal’s death was an accident, but also said it is unlikely. This was also the second instance of a bald eagle being shot in the county in the last nine years.

Sgt. Nathan Green with the NCWRC called the eagle’s discovery “disturbing.”

Although the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list, the animals are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, a violation of which carries a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction, while felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission at 1-800-662-7167 or call Master Officer Claude Smith at (919) 239-9897. Tips can also be submitted online at ncwildlife.org.

[ WUSA 9 ]