The federal government is offering a $10,000 reward for information on what might have killed 13 bald eagles that were found dead on a farm in Federalsburg, Maryland.
Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) were called to the scene after a man found four dead eagles on a farm on Saturday, and a search of the premises tallied up the body count to a symbolic 13, the number of original colonial states in America.
The death of the cause is unknown, but it’s possible that the eagles died from consuming the bodies of animals that had been poisoned, NRP official Candy Thomson told NBC News.
“What happens is that when farms have rodent problems, landowners will put out poison to control it, and the eagles will eat the poisoned animals,” Thomson said.
The case is an unusual one, and a massive die-off of so many bald eagles hasn’t been seen in Maryland in 30 years. Officials from US Fish & Wildlife Service have become involved in the case.
Bald eagles are protected species under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and first time convictions for hurting the species can lead to fines of up to $5,000 or a one-year prison sentence.