UPDATE: DNREC Police Investigating Deaths of 5 Bald Eagles - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

UPDATE: DNREC Police Investigating Deaths of 5 Bald Eagles

Posted: Updated:

DAGSBORO, Del.- Delaware DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police are investigating the deaths of five bald eagles over the weekend. 

One of the eagles was found dead near Dagsboro on Saturday morning. Three more bald eagles died later that day after resuscitation efforts by Tri-State Bird Rescue failed. The three birds were among a group of eagles found disoriented in a farm field in the Piney Neck area of Sussex County, about a mile away from where the first dead eagle was discovered.
 
According to DNREC, three more eagles in that group flew away from the scene before they could be captured and have their health evaluated by Tri-State Bird Rescue. Then on Sunday, two more birds were found, one of which was dead. The other eagle is currently being treated by DNREC.

Capt. Doug Messeck, of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, said a lot of questions still remain. 

"At this point we don't know (the cause)," he said. "We're still investigating, pending the lab results. That will give us a more definitive answer of what happened." 

Messeck said that it's "unnatural" for so many birds to die in one area, although he did not speculate on the cause. 

A group of 13 bald eagles was found dead Feb. 20 near Federalsburg, Md., with a determination made last week by the US Fish & Wildlife Service's forensics laboratory that those eagles "did not die from natural causes." USFWS is now offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who can lead to the person or persons who killed the birds in Maryland.

Messeck said that a link between the two incidents was "unlikely."

"In my opinion," he said. "Based on what we're looking at so far due to the time frame, 30 days, the distance apart, that these are two separate incidents." 

Natural Resources Police are seeking the public’s help on any eagles seen in the area on the ground acting erratically.

“We don’t know how many eagles may have been affected, so we are asking the public to notify us immediately should they see birds that appear sick,” said Sgt. John McDerby, also from the Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents are expected to join in the investigation into the eagles’ deaths Monday, according to DNREC. 

“This is an active investigation and we do not know what has caused the eagles to become sick and die,” McDerby said. “We’re also asking people not to attempt to capture or handle any eagles they encounter on the ground. These eagles will already be distressed so handling them could cause additional injuries to the eagle and possibly to anyone trying to help them.”
 
Sick or injured eagles can be reported to the Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police dispatch center at 800-523-3336. Anyone with information about the dead eagles is urged to contact Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police call 24-hour Operation Game Theft hotline at 800-292-3030. All Operation Game Theft calls are kept confidential by DNREC.

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