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Texas Teen Arrested for Fatally Shooting Bald Eagle

Texas game wardens have rescued a baby American bald eagle after a Harris County teen shot its mother multiple times with an air rifle last week.

The mother was shot on February 22 near White Oak Bayou. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, it was one of two that had actively nested in the area for several years.

A tip led game wardens, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents, and Harris County deputies to the site where the bird’s remains were left, and a brief investigation led them to a 17-year-old suspect.

It was soon learned that the suspect shot the bird while it was in its nest.

Because the American bald eagle is classified as a state threatened species, the teen was issued a Class C misdemeanor citation for his role in its death. The crime is punishable by a fine of $25-$500, as well as civil restitution of at least $10,000.

The teen was also charged with hunting without landowner consent – a Class A misdemeanor charge carrying a possible fine of $500-$4,000 and the possibility of a year in state jail.

In a media release, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said the eagle’s mate remained near the nest, which led game wardens to believe there may be eaglets. They became concerned for the well-being of any babies because the mate was not observed bringing any food back to the nest and temperatures were rising.

On February 23, agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Center Point Energy, Harris County Flood Control District, and The Wildlife Center of Texas climbed the nearly 100-foot-tall tree and found a single eaglet sitting quietly in the nest. Signs indicated that the baby fledgling was dehydrated and unfed.

The eaglet was taken to the Wildlife Center of Texas for examination and rehabilitation. Rescuers hope to teach the bird to forage and care for itself so it can be released back into the wild.

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