Bald eagle shootings rare in Maine

Posted Oct. 18, 2013, at 1:38 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — While shootings of bald eagles are extremely rare in Maine, suspects can pay a heavy price when it does happen.

Shooting a bald eagle, a symbolic figure of the United States, is a federal offense punishable by up to a year in prison and fines up to $100,000 according to Maine state law.

Game wardens are trying to determine who shot and killed a bald eagle in Hermon earlier this week. The bird was discovered in the area of Hermon Pond near the Souadabscook Stream.

The most recent case of a bald eagle shooting in Maine in which a suspect was prosecuted occurred in 2011, according to Brian Engelhard, Special Agent with the state’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office.

“It doesn’t happen very frequently,” said Engelhard Friday.

In February 2012, Stephen Voisine of Wytopitlock was sentenced to a year and day in jail for shooting and killing a bald eagle in fall 2009.

At the time of the shooting, Voisine was prohibited from using a firearm due to a prior domestic violence conviction, according to Bangor Daily News archives.

No new details on the Hermon case were available Friday morning.

Sgt. David Craven of the Maine Warden Service, who covers the Downeast and Washington County areas, said Friday eagle sightings are quite frequent in Washington County.

“We have a huge eagle population here,” Craven said.

According to Bangor Daily News archives, a man was convicted of shooting and killing an eagle in 1994 in Washington County, the first known prosecution in Maine.

Clifford Mitchell, who was 45 at the time of his sentence, shot and killed an eagle in Indian Township in 1991. He was sentenced to three months in jail three years later.

Engelhard said hunting bald eagles has always been against the law. In 1940, the Golden and Bald Eagle act was passed to protect the birds, according to the Fish and Wildlife office’s web site.

“Generally we work hand in hand with the state on eagle investigations,” he said.

Such is the case regarding the Hermon incident, although Engelhard’s organization couldn’t respond to the scene due to the government shutdown.

Now that it has been lifted, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife office will be able to assist police and game wardens on the case.

Maine Warden Service Cpl. John MacDonald has said game wardens have fielded multiple phone calls and tips, but no suspect has been identified. The case remains under investigation.

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