By Mary Ann Thomas
There's no mistaking the snow-white head and tail framing that barrel-chested, 3-foot-tall black body, with a 7-foot wingspan and a large, bright yellow bill.
The only other game birds that come close to the size of a bald eagle are the turkey and pheasant.
And a mature bald eagle looks nothing like them. Immature eagles have brownish coloring and lack the telltale field marks.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is investing separate incidents of bald eagle shootings in the region last month. So far, they have no suspects.
The Game Commission investigates about two or three bald eagle shootings a year, according to Travis Lau, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
He said the commission usually ends up filing charges for about one case a year.
Nationally, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service investigated 228 cases in 2012 for the violation of the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. That includes crimes ranging from shooting eagles, to poisoning and electrocuting the birds on power lines and to a lesser extent, the selling of eagle parts, according to Sandra Cleva, spokeswoman for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement in Arlington, Va. In the past five years, the number of eagle killings has remained steady, Cleva said.
Over the years, poachers have been shooting eagles and birds of prey, apparently for sport.
Farmers and other landowners protecting chickens, small pets and even fish have been a frequent motive, too, according to Lau. The bald eagle's diet consists mostly of fish. More....