CHARGES PENDING: Teens Kill American Bald Eagle

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Two teens are expected to face charges after police say they intentionally shot and killed an American bald eagle.

Police say the two 15-year-olds shot an eagle while it was perched in a tree on farmland near Montezuma.

After the bird was shot, authorities believe it fell from the tree and was shot again in the back where it was left paralyzed and suffering.

"There was a second shot that went through the back, came out through the back, went through the lungs where it hit here in the sternum then lodged in the thoracic area," says Dr. K.C. Cornish, a veterinarian at All Pets Veterinary Hospital in Grinnell.

A farmer heard the shot and gave police a description of the teens car. Police caught them a little while later. We are not releasing their names because they have not yet been charged, but charges are expected.

Killing an eagle is a federal crime punishable by up to two years in prison or a $250,000 fine.


    • Tita Dee

      Yes punish those boys to the max. Fine and Time!! They have no empathy for life! A huge, beautiful ,majestic bird like that, I would doubt they could have empathy for other people, They might be the kind to hurt or torture children. Their aggression could grow to harm or torture their fellow man.

  • John

    This is tragic but not nearly as sad as the thousands of birds (including eagles) that are killed each year by wind energy turbines. One wind energy farm in California alone is responsible for the deaths each year of about 10,000 birds, 2000 of which are raptors including about 60 eagles. Recently the Obama administration decided to give permits to wind energy producers which will allow them to kill eagles without fear of prosecution for the next 30 years. Tragic..

      • Ellen

        He is not ignorant; everything he wrote is factual. It is you who need to do more research, however. And now they have just put a new solar farm online when they already know it is “scorching” thousands of birds, including eagles.

      • Doug W (@Doug_W_)

        Global Warming? Yeah, right. I’m sitting here with 10 feet of snow and over 30 days with temperatures below zero in Michigan. Had snow on the ground since October and the snow will still be on the ground in April or May, like last year when we had less snow. Global Warming

    • joe capp

      wind energy is here for a purpose. shooting and killing a bald eagle for fun is a completely different issue all together. Lets keep it in perspective.

  • mark

    Who knows what kids think? I am sure one of them thought it would be cool to shoot one. It is sad and so very wrong. I didn’t know teens could legally own such a weapon. Where were the parents? The birds are beautiful and graceful creatures. Why would one need to be shot? I hope the kids can get the stiffest penalty!

  • Julie Wilson

    Send them to jail, Fine them the max amount. And who are the parents? I want to know, they are partly to blame.

  • cole

    I bet half of you stupid people couldn’t even identify a young bald eagle from a hawk and I know a lot of people that shoot Hawks And for a first time offender its just a slap on the wrist a small fine

    • Chad

      Why are you insulting people on this message board for the actions of two teens , real classy people like you give Americans bad names you should be focused less on people’s skills of identifying bird types and more on the crime at hand

  • jeff

    This is clearly a senseless act by all involved. Clearly the BOYS know they did wrong here. They are 15 yrs old, the Iowa DNR will handle the penalty and will do a good job doing it. Now to the ADULTS involved here, to the veterinary and the county sheriff who knows what 15 yr old boys are thinking, well im sure you are the best parents in the country because I can promise you no one knows what young kids are thinking. You both should be ashamed of your accusations. To the comment earlier stated by Cole, you are so correct the bird on camera is all brown, almost a twin of a red tailed hawk.There isn’t any white of the birds head, like a BALD EAGLE. If the boys shot from any distance at all they would have never known what they were shooting at. So again, what allows a vet and a sheriff to say what 15 yr old boys are thinking, also what give WHO 13 the audacity to publish such slander. Then to give the news 7 minutes on your headline story, 2-3 wks ago there was ayoung baby murdered down in Oskaloosa iowa, you gave that infant and their families 2-3 minutes. We should all think about some of the things we did when we were 15, and realize we made bad mistakes also. Again, those boys were clearly in the wrong in many ways, and they will pay for their actions for a long time.

    • stu

      Sir. First of all you must be a relative of the two kids invloved in the shooting. At 15 they don’t know what a eagle looks like. It against the law to shoot a hawk too you nit wit. Law enforcement reacts to incidents. These boys brought this upon themselves.

      • Brian

        They shot a bird. Big deal. It did not look like a bald eagle because it was all brown and probably looked like a hawk. While I agree they shouldn’t have shot it, it certainly isn’t a mistake worthy of ruining two young men’s lives.

        Also, where are all you people and the comments when a person is killed senselessly by some thug?

    • Duane Klipping

      As far as knowing if it was a hawk or bald eagle, before one shoots anything they MUST know their target. If you can’t identify what it is simple don’t pull the trigger. I know bald eagles and to think you could confuse them with a hawk which is half the size of an eagle is a poor excuse. Besides it is illegal to kill hawks too. These majestic birds have made a wonderful comeback from near extinction and what a shame these two could not appreciate them for what they are. Just a bird? Maybe so but a bird that was almost killed off because of stupid people. Maximum penalties should be applied.

  • John

    Honestly, it is messed up that they shot a bald eagle, but prison time? They are kids, give me a break. It is A okay to go shoot a pheasant or a deer, but god forbid, if they shoot a bald eagle, they deserve to be locked up for the rest of their lives! No, they don’t. National symbol or not, it is just a bird. I believe they should be punished, but not nearly as much as some of you think they should. In the end its just a bird, and if you think its fine to go and shoot other animals, I fail to understand why some of you are so angry just because it is a bald eagle. Sucks that they did it, but putting them in prison for years for something stupid like this is wrong. All you are going to do is ruin their lives and probably create criminals, because all prison is going to do is making it hard for them to get a job, thus making them probably resort to doing illegal activities for money, not hard to think about people. Prison solves nothing. Prison should be for terrible offenders, not some 15 year old kids who made a mistake and killed a bald eagle.. jesus

  • Eli Wildman

    Another case of unsupervised kids making bad choices. NOBODY has even asked why 15 year olds where driving in the country in the first place. Im assuming Iowa hasn’t changed their legal driving age. SENSELESS!

  • kris

    15 year olds are allowed school permits, they can drive to and from school…..they made a really bad choice, one that they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives, but jail time, prison time, hang them? Seriously people, would you all be screaming the same if they’d shot a chicken? I’m aware that it wasn’t a chicken, it was a bald eagle, a federally protected bird, but wanting to destroy these young lives over this is ridiculous!

  • Cheryl

    They may have not recognized it was an Eagle when they first shot it but what about the 2nd shot to the back… I think that 15 year olds shooting down on the Eagle would definitely recognize it as a national symbol(after all they are Iowa kids and have seen eagles all their lives )… at that point they knew what they were doing- they had a choice then to take it to the vet. Take away their permit’s , sit them in local jail on weekends and miss friends and fun times and make them work at a eagle rehab till the fine is paid off, and give school lectures about guns and wildlife. Perhaps they will grow up to be the men they are meant to be!

  • Rachel

    Interesting the comments posted here. I recall many times growing up in rural Iowa where my classmates did much the same activities; carrying guns and shooting things be they living or inanimate “for fun”. Does that make it right? Certainly not. Don’t however presume to think this type of lawless activity doesn’t occur in our communities on a regular basis.

    The news report states that the boys must have known they were shooting at an eagle. I challenge that statement. This was a large brown bird in a tree being viewed at a distance. This bird did not look like your typical bald eagle with a defined bald head.

    I am not condoning this senseless activity. The DNR will take action to teach these teenagers a life lesson they will not soon forget. The public shaming will forever haunt these kids and their parents because the boys made a quick decision without using their heads.

    I find a few of the comments posted here ridiculous in nature. Both boys and their parents will be punished, of that I have not doubt. Death or imprisonment as applicable penalties for this crime are nothing but obtuse responses to a public forum.

    • Ken lockwood

      So Rachel what kid if hunting season was it that these two boys that are smart enough to know how to use a gun, and a good enough shot to shoot it the first time, way up in a tree, but when they walked up on it after it fell to the found and shot it in the back at close range, didn’t know it was an eagle? Just asking.

  • John

    I’m sorry. When I was 15 years old, it never would have crossed my mind to shoot a totally defenseless animal and think that it was fun. I think it’s sick. Maybe they are only 15, but that is no excuse to shoot anything, and enjoy watching it suffer. Where were the parents?

  • iowamom

    I am aware that this is a crime. Ok they should be prosecuting according to the law. But what about the people that are over eighteen and they knowingly get abortions, killing human helpless babies and nobody says anything about it. They even do it under the law. Now that is so much worse that all of this.

    • John

      While I couldn’t agree with you more, it has nothing to do with this story. This is a story about 2 fifteen year old kids shooting and killing a bald eagle for fun. Our National Symbol.

      Why is it that when people get upset about someone hurting a defenseless animal, dog, bird, etc., someone brings up abortion? Yes, abortion to me is murder, but, unfortunately it’s legal, and it’s not going to stop.

      Please stick to the story.

      • iowamom

        The reason we bring abortion is because everytime someone gets one done. No body says nothing. However people is commenting all kinds of of things against these two idiots who should it know better . That is why we have to bring abortion up. Because a country that protects birds should protect people most.

    • mark

      iowa mom how many kids have you offered to take so the person that don’t want the child won’t have an abortion? none I bet!! so you should mind your own unless your ready to step up and help stop it!!!!

  • cole

    Can anyone tell me why this our national bird I see bald eagles all the time in winter and all they are scavenger mostly you people sound like scavengers wanting to jump all over these kids for one mistake that they’re going to learn from And probably benefit from actually in the long run I am from Rural iowa kids do this kind of thing all the time it’s not right but they do it anyway

  • Michele Bohmke

    A sad and ugly death for a majestic bird minding its own business while digesting a meal. Obviously empathy and sympathy are absent in those boys that shot the eagle twice. Some jail time and a big fine should be in their futures, at least I hope so.

  • Montezuma Dad

    My Mother always said those who are quick to point fingers are the same ones that have three pointing back at them. I know of no one who hasn’t done something that they regretted later. I know these boys. They are still boys. They are learning a lesson that will remain with them their entire lives. They made a mistake, a BIG mistake. As Jesus said, He who is without sin may cast the first stone.

  • robyn

    It is frightening to see how many idiots we have in Iowa. All these vile comments about punishment are based on some bare facts.

  • resident of the community

    A hefty fine, a couple of years probation, community service with the DNR, the right to to carry a weapon taken away and make them do research for public speaking on gun safety,protected wildlife and the trouble you can get into if you break the law.

    No one is perfect but we all have a sense of right and wrong. WE only know what we are taught and learn from others. Apparently they have not been taught the right stuff.

  • Ron Millard

    Stupid is not a excuse for a Federal crime. The parents lack of responsibility for teaching right from wrong. Actions have consequences is the best teacher here, for all involved. I say give them 5 years to pay off the fine or 5 years reporting to a parole officer once a week, and have one parent accompany them at the animal rescue for dung clean up.

  • Lorenzo

    One common thread in the development of serial killers is in the torture or killing of defenseless animals. Reminds me of people that drop cinder blocks on passing cars or the burning of covered bridges.

  • Ellen

    Do not let their ages be a factor in determining their punishment. Jail time + fines, plus banishment from ever owning guns or pets.

  • betterthanU

    i really can’t believe some of the comments.. freakin’ online trolls. may everything you wish upon others happen to you when you do something wrong(because you will).

    • John

      Or maybe you are one of the 15 year old kids that did this? And have no remorse? If so, I hope that the judge makes an example out of you. So that no other kids think that they can kill any living thing, that is totally defenseless, just because.

  • Lizz

    “Just want to mention that it is illegal to harm ANY native wild bird……from a tiny Wren all the way up to an Eagle or Vulture!! Some people do not realize that using random wild birds for ‘target practice’ IS breaking federal law!!

    You cannot even have a native wild bird of any kind in your possession for any reason without proper permits (otherwise THAT also breaks federal law). It IS legal to rescue them as long as you immediately contact a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator and get them transferred over as soon as possible.”

  • Guy

    This entire scenario shows us ALL that WE EACH MUST CHOOSE to Promote the Good “Culture of Life”, AND OPPOSE the EVIL “Culture of Death, Destruction, Exploitation, and Abuse,(of other animals and humans)” The World is Still Overpopulated with too many IDIOT Humans who operate within the Evil Culture of Death, and Destruction…!!!! Wake up Everybody! We MUST STOP Such behavior!

  • Rus

    Since there were 2 shots involved, these boys should face maximum penalties….oh, and 2 shots to each of them in a body part of their choice.

  • Debbie Perryman

    this is the start of abuse when they start killing animals for reason they need to be held accountable for their actions. Fine yes time yes! They should never be allowed to own a pet!

  • Stacey

    #1. This is a FEDERAL CRIME! #2. If you don’t know what you are shooting at…you should not be shooting at it. #3. 15? You are not even old enough to be driving a car without an adult present. That’s 3 strikes… YOU’RE OUT! in my book…..

  • Howard

    I can’t believe some of the comments here. I think I’m living in some third world hole. They shot and killed a bird. Yes, it is our national symbol. But, as suggested by some to throw them in prison for the rest of their life, and shoot them and to fine them the $250000 is insane.

    They should do some time, pay a fine and probation/public service.

    There was a case in E. Texas where 3 hood rats kidnapped an old (80s) lady. Bound and gagged her, threw her in the trunk of a car and then drove around several hours. They then took her to a river, beat her, tied a brick to her and threw her in a river. The youngest of the three now walks around a free man. At the time of the crime, he was about the same age as these two boys. He did a few years in juvenile detention, a couple years in a halfway house, then he was free.

    Which was the worse of the two crimes? Let the punishment fit the crime.

    • John

      Guess what, Howard? These hood rats were probably killing animals when they were younger, too.

      The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers.

      • Howard

        May be they were and may be they weren’t. I do know that they hated anyone who wasn’t black.

        I kill a ton of rabbits on the winter wheat fields in the spring. I never raped or killed anyone.

        I think that people calling for the heads to roll on these two boys is a little outrageous.

        Some time, a fine and public service yes.
        Don’t screw their lives by saddling them with a felony.

  • Teen Words

    One of the things I find most appalling about the whole story, though it isn’t posted here, is that one of the boys is still allowed to play for his high school basketball team. There are so many things you can do to be ineligible to play, apparently the school thinks this is okay for their students to do….

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