A bald eagle found near Montana Creek Road on Dec. 22 had to be euthanized due to injuries, visible here, received from a lead shot fired from a shotgun. The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward for information on the shooter. (Courtesy photo / Juneau Raptor Center)

A bald eagle found near Montana Creek Road on Dec. 22 had to be euthanized due to injuries, visible here, received from a lead shot fired from a shotgun. The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward for information on the shooter. (Courtesy photo / Juneau Raptor Center)

Authorities investigate fatal shooting of bald eagle

The otherwise healthy, adult bird had to be euthanized for its injuries.

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigates a bald eagle that was shot in Juneau before Christmas and later had to be euthanized, the manager of the Juneau Raptor Center talks about another famous eagle that was shot.

“Years ago we had an eagle shot in Wrangell. Every time it happens it gets investigated,” said Juneau Raptor Center manager Kathy Benner in an interview. “Lady Baltimore is the perfect example of an eagle that got shot.”

Bald eagles are federally protected animals, and killing one comes with severe penalties — up to $250,000 and five years in prison for a felony conviction, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We see things like birds getting hit by cars,” Benner said. “When I found out the bird was shot, I was shocked.”

There’s been fewer than 10 bald eagles brought to the JRC with gunshot wounds in her over two decades with the center, Benner said. Whenever a bald eagle turns up with a gunshot wound, poisoning or certain other kinds of injuries, the raptor center contacts FWS, who investigate the incident, Benner said. FWS is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooter.

A bald eagle found near Montana Creek Road on Dec. 22 had to be euthanized due to injuries, visible here, received from a lead shot fired from a shotgun. The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward for information on the shooter. (Courtesy photo / Juneau Raptor Center)

A bald eagle found near Montana Creek Road on Dec. 22 had to be euthanized due to injuries, visible here, received from a lead shot fired from a shotgun. The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward for information on the shooter. (Courtesy photo / Juneau Raptor Center)

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years,” Benner said. “I’m sure it happens more than what we see, because we only see it when it comes in.”

For the eagle rescued near Montana Creek Road on Dec. 22, its rescuers weren’t even aware it was such a case until the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka X-rayed the bird, and passed word that it had been shot, Benner said. The bird, whose pelvis was shattered and had mounting lead poisoning from the lead shot (shotgun ammunition) that is illegal in Alaska, had to be euthanized, Benner said.

“There’s all these things that come into play with birds, what they can and can’t live with it,” Benner said. “This eagle did have significantly elevated lead levels. It was lead shot. The lead will leach into them and it’s just a slow horrible death for the wildlife.”

Lady Baltimore, seen here, was injured by gunfire in 2006 and rescued by the Juneau Raptor Center. The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward for information on the shooter of another bald eagle, found on Dec. 22, which had to be euthanized due to its injuries. (Courtesy photo / Juneau Raptor Center)

Lady Baltimore, seen here, was injured by gunfire in 2006 and rescued by the Juneau Raptor Center. The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward for information on the shooter of another bald eagle, found on Dec. 22, which had to be euthanized due to its injuries. (Courtesy photo / Juneau Raptor Center)

Shooting survivor and educational example

Lady Baltimore was another such bird, but her story has a happier ending. Found in Douglas in 2006 and rescued by the JRC, she had taken a round damaging her beak and wing.

“Apparently she was shot in the beak and the rest of the right wing. I think it was a bullet as opposed to shot, but she had been out in the wild for two weeks after she had been shot,” Benner said. “She was shot in the wing, so she couldn’t fly. The impact of the bullet also caused a detached retina in her left eye.”

She was named by a volunteer for reasons lost to the fog of time, Benner said.

“The name was strictly because one of our volunteers from the East Coast named her that,” Benner said. “She was named Lord Baltimore. When they found out she was a lady, they changed it to Lady Baltimore.”

Now, at least 21 years old, Lady Baltimore lives comfortably as an educational bird for the raptor center, allowing people who might never have had the chance to see a bald eagle up close the opportunity.

“She lived with me last year. She’s very vocal, Lady Baltimore. She’s got a great personality,” Benner said. “She’s gotten comfortable with being around humans. She’s still a wild bird, not a pet. But she’s gotten used to tolerating humans.”

Benner said it’s upsetting that the eagle was shot, but that most people in Juneau are better than that.

“It’s just sad. There’s people like that,” Benner said. “But I can tell from the response we get from the community of Juneau that most people aren’t like that. They get very angry when things like this happen.”

See something, say something

Anyone with information about the eagle shot on Dec. 22 is asked to call the Fish and Wildlife investigation office in Juneau at 586-7545. If you see an injured bird or one acting strangely, the JRC’s emergency pager is 790-5424.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 2

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

KENAI — On Thanksgiving, Alaska Wildlife Troopers released a dispatch about a… Continue reading

The snowy steps of the Alaska State Capitol are scheduled to see a Nativity scene during an hour-long gathering starting at 4 p.m. Friday which, in the words of a local organizer, is “for families to start their Gallery Walk in a prayerful manner.” But two Outside groups dedicated to placing Nativity scenes at as many state capitol buildings as possible are proclaiming it a victory against the so-called “war on Christmas.” The head of Alaska’s Legislative Affairs Agency, which has administrative oversight of the building, said the gathering is legal since a wide variety of events occur all the time, often with religious overtones, but the placement of a fixed or unattended display is illegal. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Scene and heard: Religious freedom groups say Nativity event makes statement

State officials say happening planned for Capitol relatively common and legal.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Dec. 1

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Steve Lewis, foreground, and Stephen Sorensen from the Alaska State Review Board scan ballots from precincts where they were hand counted at the Division of Elections office Nov. 15. Board officials spent the period between the Nov. 8 election and its certification Wednesday performing about 20 different to verify the results. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Election certified, but challenges pending

Outcome of at least two state House races unknown, which may determine chamber’s leadership

Errol Culbreth and Scotlyn Beck (Polichinelles) rehearse ahead of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.” The immensely popular ballet is coming to the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Friday through Sunday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau Dance Theatre is ready to get cracking

“The Nutcracker” is set to run Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Most Read