A Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) officer who responded Saturday to a dead bald eagle disposed of the bird and when asked about it by the NRP spokesperson, told her it wasn’t a bald eagle.
Lindsay Behringer discovered the eagle Saturday on a Kent Island beach and called authorities.
I learned about the incident after being tagged on a Facebook post about it.
Behringer posted on Facebook, “I found a dead bald eagle today. I was picking up these pieces, and just found it laying there on the beach. It’s talons were huge, way bigger than I imagined them being. It was really sad. I called DNR police and they came and got him for an autopsy. The officer said he either ate fishing line or was poisoned by farmers trying to rid their fields of pests. He also said there are trappers who will come and live trap and release pests for free, so that’s a great alternative. Also said they found nine bald eagles around a poisoned fox once, and only two survived. So I think we can all agree to never use poison again, or litter fishing gear. Ok, great thanks.”
I contacted NRP shortly after I saw the post on Saturday.
Lauren Moses, NRP’s public information officer, responded, “Per the officer the bird was beyond decomposed and therefore unknown type of bird or cause of death. Had been there a long time. However. The bird was too small to be an eagle according to the officer.”
After Behringer sent me photos of the bird Sunday, I questioned NRP again.
Moses responded, ” Hi Donna, I spoke with the officer again. According to him the bird was beyond decomposition. From what he saw the the bird was too small to be an eagle. The reason why it was disposed of was because it was rotten and decaying. If the bird was in a better condition then it would have been transported to a wildlife center. Also the officer stated that when asked if the bird was poisoned, he stated that there were bird poisonings in the past. However, he also stated that it could’ve been a number of things that caused the bird to be deceased such as natural causes.”
Behringer knew it was an eagle and she commented on the Facebook post, “The officer knew it was one too, he told me lots of stories when I showed it to him. It was extremely sad.”
Even from the photos Behringer provided me, there was no way of mistaking this bird for anything other than a bald eagle.
There is a procedure that calls for eagles, in any condition, to be sent to the National Eagle Repository – the repository makes eagle parts available to recognized Native American and Indigenous Canadian tribes for religious use.
NRP is aware of that procedure.
The repository exists to prevent the illegal killing of federally protected bald eagles for their parts.
It’s possible the feathers of this dead eagle could have been cleaned and distributed to tribes. The talons of the bird also appeared to be in good shape for possible distribution by the repository.
If it’s believed the bird died because of illegal actions by humans, it’s the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who is responsible for determining that, not a NRP officer.
Even in a decayed state, evidence can still be present.
But the NRP officer disposed of the federally protected bird and then claimed it wasn’t a bald eagle.
After I sent the photo of the talons (which clearly belong to a bald eagle), Moses asked for more photos. I sent her the photo used as the cover photo on this article – all of these photos were provided to me by Behringer.
I questioned, to myself, why I was being asked for photos because I assumed the officer took some.
Moses told me twice Sunday she was checking with DNR’s wildlife division and she’d get back to me.
I haven’t heard anything since.
This will be updated when I hear back from NRP.