Brad VidmarThe Hawk Eye0:161:00https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.478.2_en.html#goog_389767667
LEE COUNTY — The Lee County Sheriff’s Office wants people to know that drivers who hit bald eagles need to notify authorities after a semi truck driver hit and killed one on Monday.
The incident happened just before 7 p.m. when Lee County deputies were called to 320th Street on Highway 27, near Argyle, for a single-vehicle accident.
When deputies arrived, they found the driver of a semi truck who had hit and killed a bald eagle.
The driver told deputies he was heading northbound on Iowa 27 when the eagle came up from the shoulder of the road and struck the truck’s windshield, causing it to crack and cave in.
According to Lee County Deputy Jordan Maag, the driver seemed shaken up by the accident but was uninjured. The truck had no other damages besides the windshield and was driven away from the scene of the accident. The driver was not charged or fined. https://931c125e0f38dfa5bcd0e7fd62ca5672.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The deputies at the scene were able to locate the dead eagle by the side of the road.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources was contacted to dispose of the eagle, but, according to Maag, an officer was unavailable and a county conservation officer came to the dispose of the eagle instead.
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This isn’t the first time a bald eagle has been killed in an automobile accident in Lee County.
According to Maag, there have been at least three or four similar incidents in Lee County within the past five years.
“It’s rare,” Maag said. “Usually it’s a turkey or turkey vulture instead of a bald eagle. But it does happen, obviously.”
It’s also important to remember that bald eagles are not like other birds. While bald eagles no longer are considered an endangered species, they remain protected under multiple federal laws and regulations.
According to the Iowa DNR, bald eagles are protected by several federal laws, with the penalties for the killing of an eagle ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 (depending on the individual circumstances, whether or not it was a repeat offense and if the bird was killed by an individual or on behalf of a business or organization) and up two years in prison.
It is also illegal for individuals to keep eagle feathers and other parts (such as feet, egg shells, etc.) without a federal permit. State, tribal and other permits may be needed and penalties can range anywhere from $250 to $500,000 and up to five years in prison (again, all depending on individual circumstances, number of offenses and if the offense was carried out by an individual or a business or organization).
In 2014, an Iowan who captured and killed a bald eagle in rural Keokuk County in March 2011 was sentenced in federal court to 60 days imprisonment, one year of supervised release, a $2,000 fine, a $25 payment to the Crime Victim Fund, 80 hours of community service and was restricted from doing any hunting.
While it may not be necessary for car accidents involving other types of birds, anyone in an automobile accident involving a bald eagle, or anyone who simply finds a dead bald eagle, needs to call authorities so they can notify the proper wildlife conservation authorities, Maag said.
In accordance with federal law, once a dead bald eagle is confiscated by those authorities, they typically are taken to a depository with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and then sent to the National Eagle Repository in Colorado where it is categorized and then provided to Native Americans for tribal rituals, according to Shawn Meier, captain of the southeastern district of the Iowa DNR.
Meier also noted that injured bald eagles are taken to wildlife rehabilitation facilities and that an individual who simply neglects to report a dead bald eagle isn’t likely to face fines and penalties if they did not cause the bird’s death.
If you do find a dead bald eagle and cannot contact the authorities for whatever reason, at the very least, Meier advised for people to leave the dead birds alone.