Wildlife authorities are asking for the public's help in catching the person or people responsible for shooting and killing four bald eagles in Marion County earlier this year.
The birds were discovered off Marion County Road 3021 on Feb. 13 near Pyatt.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced April 28 that it is offering a $5,000 reward for a tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of those who killed the federally protected birds.
A joint investigation by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the birds were shot between mid-January and mid-February.
In addition to the birds, authorities found red-tailed hawks, a domestic dog and white-tailed deer in the vicinity that had also been shot and killed.
"There's, I think, evidence that somebody probably shot [the birds] from the road, but I don't even know that they're 100% certain of that," said Rob Finley, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioner for the area where the eagles were killed. "I know that they did set up a little bit of an operation up to see if ... the people ever came back, but never did."
Finley said that's when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the lead on the investigation.
At press time, no one with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was available for comment.
Bald eagles are federally protected, initially under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and then the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940.
The violations of these acts carry maximum criminal penalties of up to $250,000 fine and up to two years in federal prison.
In 1978, all bald eagles in the 48 contiguous states became protected under the Endangered Species Preservation Act.
While protected, bald eagles are no longer considered endangered. They were removed from the endangered list in 2007.
"The bald eagles do migrate in and out of the state quite a bit now," said Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesperson Randy Zellers. "We do have nesting bald eagles in the state. But we [also] see an influx of bald eagles every winter, primarily with the waterfowl migration. When the waterfowl come south, a lot of eagles will follow them down [to prey on]."
Anyone with information about the bald eagles killed in Marion County can contact the Conway Office of Law Enforcement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (501) 513-4470 or the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission at (833) 356-0824.