IDNR Investigating Death of Bald Eagle Near Lake Shelbyville

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Lake Shelbyville - When healthy, eagles are sleek, powerful, and majestic birds.

However, when they're held in illegal captivity, more times than not, they get sick and become ill.

That was the case for a bald eagle found by Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police on March 17th.

"We had everything from broken feathers to broken talons.  Scales missing off its feet.  It had a really bad staph infection on its feet called bumble foot which is something that can only happen in captivity," said Jacques Nuzzo, program director for the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur.

Nuzzle said that the evidence from those injuries indicates that someone had had this bird in a cage.

He also said that while someone may have thought they were helping this bird, in reality, they were only putting it in greater danger.

"When birds contact wire that causes all kinds of damage.  They're not just birds you simply take and stick in a cage and throw some raw chicken at.  That's actually the worst possible thing you could do.  Somebody could have found this bird brought it in, and thought they could care for it, which is a noble thought, but it's illegal," he added.

As a result, the conservation police is investigating its death which is why Nuzzo is pleading with whoever had the bird to come forward.

"I consider eagles as sacred as the American flag.  The more honest you are with these guys, the better they are about the situation.  As long as you are honest with them and you admit to things, they're not as severe.  The moment you disrespect those officers is the moment things can get kind of hairy for you," said Nuzzo.

If you have any tips you're encouraged to call the IDNR's tip line at 1-877-236-7529.

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