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Police investigating weekend deaths of four bald eagles

DAGSBORO – DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police are investigating the deaths of four bald eagles in Delaware over the weekend. One of the eagles was found dead near Dagsboro Saturday morning. Three more bald eagles died later after resuscitation efforts by Tri-State Bird Rescue failed. The three birds were among a group of eagles found disoriented in a farm field in the Piney Neck area of Sussex County, about a mile away from where the first dead eagle was discovered.

Three of the eagles in that group flew from the scene before they could be captured and have their health evaluated by Tri-State Bird Rescue, leading Natural Resources Police to seek the public’s help on any eagles seen in the area on the ground acting erratically. “We don’t know how many eagles may have been affected, so we are asking the public to notify us immediately should they see birds that appear sick,” said Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. Five birds were transported Saturday afternoon to Tri-State Bird Rescue in Newark, where two remain under care.

US Fish & Wildlife Service agents, with federal jurisdiction, are expected to join in the investigation into the eagles’ deaths Monday. Natural Resources Police are not commenting on what may have killed them, Sgt. McDerby said. “This is an active investigation and we do not know what has caused the eagles to become sick and die,” he said. “We’re also asking people not to attempt to capture or handle any eagles they encounter on the ground. These eagles will already be distressed so handling them could cause additional injuries to the eagle and possibly to anyone trying to help them.”

Sick or injured eagles can be reported to the Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police dispatch center at 800-523-3336. Anyone with information about the dead eagles is urged to contact Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police call 24-hour Operation Game Theft hotline at 800-292-3030. All Operation Game Theft calls are kept confidential by DNREC.

A group of 13 bald eagles was found dead Feb. 20 near Federalsburg, Md., with a determination made last week by the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s forensics laboratory that those eagles “did not die from natural causes.” USFWS is now offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who can lead to the person or persons who killed the birds in Maryland.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish, wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at http://de.gov/ogt.