It was a crime that shocked Middle Tennessee. A bald eagle was found clinging to life in Bedford County.
It turns out, the eagle had been shot by someone using a pellet gun, although investigators don’t know if that’s why it was so sick.
It’s our nation’s symbol because of its great strength, majestic looks and the ability to live a long life; the bald eagle.
But it’s not uncommon for Walden’s Puddle in Joelton to receive one that has been shot.
“Anytime we get birds in that are shot or here for some human reason, those are the ones that pulls on our heart-strings a bit,” Walden’s Puddle Executive Director Elisa Fosco said.
The injured bald eagle, named Jordan was given a new lease on life.
“Every time we give an animal a chance it’s great, but when it’s something like a bald eagle, our nation’s symbol, it’s just a little bit more special,” Fosco said.
The eagle had been shot with a pellet in the wing. When someone intentionally shoots an animal of any kind, it’s extremely hard for those at Walden’s Puddle to cope.
Animal cruelty cases are the most difficult.
“When most of us start doing this is because we want to help wildlife, and when most of us stop doing this it’s because we’ve seen so many injuries at the hands of malicious people,” Fosco said. “I’ve lost a lot of staff over the years because of the things we see at the hands of people. It definitely takes its toll on the people that do what we do.”
The nonprofit wildlife rehab center helps authorities whenever it can with animal crime investigations.
“When we get in any criminal activity, for example, a gunshot,” Fosco said. “We will always report that to either TWRA or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service depend on the animal, but we do report our gunshots.”
The Eagle was found by kayakers, stuck in the mud in the Duck River in Bedford County, shaking and in shock.
It was handed over to a Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) officer.
The Eagle was taken to a local vet, who initially treated it.
An x-ray revealed it had been shot by someone using a pellet gun. TWRA investigates quite a few animal abuse cases and makes it a priority to try and catch the perpetrator.
“It can be very difficult because there is not a whole lot of people out there in the wild on a daily basis,” TWRA officer Larry Thurston said.
Since the injury to the bald eagle appeared to be old, the chances of someone being arrested for the crime is next to impossible.
“There’s a slim chance that the person will ever be found,” Thurston said. “Nobody saw it happen. Eagles move around several miles.”
The eagle was released back into the wild.
“It was nice to see the eagle fly off and just disappear,” Thurston said.
Those at Walden’s Puddle hopes it is not harmed again. Shooting or harming a Bald Eagle is a state and federal crime.