News Release
Southeast Region


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$2,500 Reward for Information Involving Bald Eagle Shooting

February 24, 2011

Mark Patterson, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, 800-262-6704
Bo Stone, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,, 865-692-4024
Tom MacKenzie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,, 404-679-7291

A brown and white juvenile whooping crane

Mark Patterson, officer with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, holds dead bald eagle. USFWS Photo.

PIKEVILLE --- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are investigating the shooting of a bald eagle in the area of Big Springs Gap Road in Bledsoe County, Tennessee.  A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible for shooting the eagle.

The eagle was discovered in Bledsoe County approximately one mile east of the intersection of Tennessee State Highway 101 and Big Springs Gap Road.  An examination by a veterinarian determined that the eagle had been shot.  The bald eagle was mature with a white head and white tail. 

“Recent investigations show that bald and golden eagle feathers and talons can be worth thousands of dollars on the black market.” said Bo Stone, special agent in the Service’s Knoxville, Tennessee, Office of Law Enforcement. “When money is tight, wildlife usually suffers as people struggle to make ends meet.  The responsible party who shot this eagle just left it to rot.  The bald eagle holds a special place in the heart of every American.  It is our national emblem and a great symbol of pride and freedom.  We intend to prosecute the responsible party to the fullest extent of the law.”

Anyone with information concerning this eagle is asked to call Special Agent Stone at 865-692-4024, or Bledsoe County Wildlife Officer Mark Patterson with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency at 800-262-6704. 

Bald eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, both federal wildlife statutes. Violations of these statutes carry maximum criminal penalties of up to $100,000 and/or one year in federal prison.

Tennessee currently hosts about 140 eagle breeding pairs, according to Scott Somershoe, ornithologist with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.   

Bald eagles historically ranged from Mexico to Alaska.  It typically takes four or five years for bald eagles to mature but many do not start breeding until they are much older.  They may live 15 to 25 years in the wild.  Their primary diet is fish, so most bald eagles are found near rivers and lakes.   

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of American people. Visit the Service’s websites at or

The mission of the TWRA is to preserve, conserve, protect, and enhance the fish and wildlife of the state and their habitats for the use, benefit, and enjoyment of the citizens of Tennessee and its visitors. The Agency will foster the safe use of the state's waters through a program of law enforcement, education, and access. To learn more go to


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Last updated: February 25, 2011