Federal and state officials are looking for the person who shot a bald eagle in December 2012 in Neshoba County. The bird eventually died because of its injuries.
The bird was discovered at the Nanih Waiya Wildlife Management Area in the Coy community of northern Neshoba County. Investigators are looking for clues, and offering a reward.
Wildlife officials say the bald eagle's injuries indicated he was shot near where he was found. It had multiple pellet wounds in its wings, legs and eyes. The injuries were so bad that it had to be euthanized. Local wildlife experts say the incident is troubling.
"There aren't very many of them, and to lose even one adult bald eagle is really critical for the population of the state of Mississippi," said Dr. Jared Fogerty of MSU Meridian.
The bald eagle population has been growing in recent years, enough so that it is off the endangered species list But it is still protected by other state and federal laws.
Estimates say there are only 40-50 breeding pairs of bald eagles in all of Mississippi. So losing one prematurely could hamper the continued survival of the entire species.
"It takes them a long time to reproduce in comparison to other birds," said Fogerty. "It can take them many years to recover."
Bald eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. If the person who shot this particular eagle is found, he or she could face up to $100,000 in fines or up to a year in federal prison.
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case. If you have any, call 601-331-0292 or 601-432-2074.