Groups rally to save eagles shot for their feathers; investigation widens

Groups rally to save eagles shot for their feathers; investigation widens


Groups rally to save eagles shot for their feathers; investigation widens

In perceived acts of evil in New Mexico, somebody is shooting large eagles and collecting their tail feathers, leaving the majestic birds of prey to perish.

Fortunately, several groups are doing their best to heal and rehabilitate the injured raptors, while a federal investigation is aimed at catching the person (or persons) responsible for the cruel and illegal acts.

Golden eagle shot for tail feathers is now on the mend. Photo: Hawks Aloft

At least three eagles – a bald eagle and two golden eagles – have been shot during the past two weeks on Navajo agricultural land south of Farmington.

The bald eagle died of infection that developed after surgery, but both golden eagles appear to be on the mend after undergoing surgery to repair damage caused by gunshot wounds.

Golden eagle receiving fluids. Photo: Hawks Aloft

Hawks Aloft, Inc. is among the organizations helping in the effort to treat the raptors, and to bring attention to the issue.

Among other groups vital to the care of the birds are the Petroglyph Animal Hospital, Navajo Nation Zoological and Botanical Park, and El Rincon Pet Hospital.

Dr. Kariana Jones and team perform surgery on eagle No. 3. Photo: Hawks Aloft

In a Facebook update on victim No. 3, Gail Garber of Hawks Aloft stated that the female golden eagle was shot through the wing, and added:

“Whoever shot her pulled out her tail feathers while she lay on the ground in pain. We hope this magnificent bird will recover and eventually be released, although it will take months for her to regrow her tail.”

Surgery was performed Monday at Petroglyph Animal Hospital; several pins now hold part of the eagle’s wing together.

It’s hoped the golden eagle will someday be returned to the wild. Photo: Hawks Aloft

“Thanks to the extraordinary care of the doctors at Petroglyph Animal Hospital, Melloy Michael S DVM and Hudgell Raymond P DVM, this eagle has a second chance at life,” Garber wrote.

Garber told USA Today on Wednesday that early signs of recovery are good. “She is doing well today and devoured a rabbit yesterday, so she’s clearly eating on her own,” Garber said.

An up-close look at the face a wounded golden eagle. Photo: Hawks Aloft

It’s hoped that eagle No. 3 can ultimately be released back into the wild. Eagle No. 2, a male golden eagle, will likely spend the rest of his life in a vast aviary at Navajo Nation Zoological and Botanical Park, after losing part of a wing as a result of the gunshot.

All three birds were shot on irrigated land that attracts feeding raptors during winter months. Unfortunately, these birds can become easy targets for poachers seeking to acquire feathers for sale on the black market, or for religious or cultural purposes.

A growing investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Bald eagles and golden eagles are federally protected and it’s against the law to possess, transport or sell feathers and other parts.

–Images are used with permission given by Hawks Aloft, Inc. 

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