Bald Eagle Fatally Shot on Christmas Eve in Virginia Wildlife Shelter, Authorities Call for Public Help

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) – The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center was met with a heart-wrenching scene on Christmas Eve as a young bald eagle succumbed to a gunshot wound in the wing. The eagle, weighing just under ten pounds, was found in Wythe County after more than a week of eluding capture. Following attempts by the Department of Wildlife Resources, Appalachian Wildlife Management, and concerned citizens, the eagle was brought to the shelter for care but ultimately did not survive its injuries.

Upon arrival at the wildlife shelter, X-rays revealed bullet fragments in the eagle’s wing, causing irreparable damage to the bone. “Sadly this magnificent bird was unable to recover from its injuries and did not make it,” said Chester Leonard, the executive director of SVWC. “Animals deserve so much better. We wish we could save all of our patients and are deeply saddened by the loss of this magnificent eagle.”

Leonard emphasized that the incident was no accident, stating, “There is no way that this was, at least in my opinion, this was a hunting accident. This was intentionally someone shot a bald eagle.” Shooting a bald eagle is a serious crime, punishable by a fine of $100,000, imprisonment for one year, or both, for a first offense.

SVWC has condemned the act as a “horrific crime” and has urged anyone with information about the incident to contact the Department of Wildlife Resources at 1-800-237-5712. The Center’s staff, along with wildlife advocates, mourn the loss of the beautiful bird and hope that justice will be served for the senseless act of violence against a symbol of American freedom.