The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is searching for the people who butchered and then placed a bald eagle in a plastic bag near Albert Lea, Minnesota.
"The eagle was found in a plastic bag, breasted out, with its talons and a portion of one leg missing," the service said, KMSP reports.
Authorities offered a reward of $2,500 to anyone who helps locate the suspects responsible for the crime.
The federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act had made such a crime punishable by a sentence of one year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
It’s a particularly necessary law given the National Eagle Center explains that “the greatest threats to wild eagle populations are human made.”
“With no natural predators, interactions with humans are the most dangerous threat eagles face. Collisions with cars or electrical lines cause injury to many eagles. Still more dangerous is lead they may encounter in the environment as a result of human recreational activities like hunting and fishing,” the center explains on its website.
Protecting the animals is even more relevant given bald eagles are increasingly migrating to Minnesota.
"Eagles that will be on their way right now, this is the migration back north. Northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, some of the eagles that we see here during the winter are spending the summer near Hudson Bay, Canada. Spend the summer up there raising their families and then coming back here late September and October," said Scott Mehus, education coordinator at the National Eagle Center, reports KARE.
Thanks to a variety of factors, including legal protection for the animals, eagles have started to thrive in Minnesota.
"Between 1968 and 1972, there was just one nesting pair of bald eagles left, that's it. Thankfully now today, once we removed DET from the environment and we helped get protection for the eagle, that same stretch of river has over 313 pairs of nesting pairs of bald eagles," added Mehus.