Rewards offered in Bald Eagle and Whooping Crane Shooting Investigations

article by Anne Paine and published in The Tennessean – March 10, 2011

A second Bald eagle has been killed in Tennessee in less than a month, this one east of Crossville, in Cumberland County. The other was found shot dead 30 miles away in Bledsoe County, the next county over.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating. The penalty is up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison for a federal offense.

These join a rash of shootings of highly protected species, notably five federally endangered whooping cranes killed since Dec. 30 in two separate incidents in Georgia and Alabama. They were part of a small group of cranes that have been re-introduced to the wild — some learning to migrate behind an Ultralight aircraft through Tennessee.

Bald eagles are no longer on the endangered species list as their numbers grow, but they’re still a protected species under two separate federal laws.

An $8,500 reward is offered in each eagle case to the first person providing information that results in the successful prosecution of the person or people responsible.

Both eagles were mature with a white head and white tail. One was found in the Crab Orchard Community and the other near Big Springs Gap Road. Tennessee has 140 eagle breeding pairs, said Scott Somershoe, ornithologist with the TWRA.

Most Bald eagles, which primarily eat fish are found near lakes and rivers. It generally takes four or five years for birds to mature but many don’t start breeding until much older. They can live up to 25 years in the wild.

Anyone with information about the eagle found in Cumberland County is asked to call Special Agent John Rayfield at (615) 736-5532, or TWRA Cumberland County Wildlife Officer Casey Mullen at 800-262-6704.

Anyone with information about the other is asked to call Special Agent Bo Stone at (865) 692-4024, or TWRA Bledsoe County Wildlife Officer Mark Patterson at 800-262-6704.

Ed note: In the case of the two Whooping cranes found shot near Weiss Lake on the Alabama/Georgia border a reward of $23,250 is being offered for additional information leading to successful prosecution of the perpetrator(s).To provide information, call Special Agent John Rawls at 334-285-9600, or e-mail him at
The USFWS is leading a joint investigation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to apprehend the person or persons who shot the three Whooping cranes discovered in Calhoun County, GA on December 30, 2010. The reward in this case stands at $20,800 for any information leading to the prosecution of the perpetrator in this case. If you have any knowledge concerning the deaths of these cranes please contact USFWS Special Agent Terry Hastings at 404-763-7959 or