WINNSBORO, La. -- State and federal wildlife officials are looking for a person who beheaded a bald eagle in Franklin Parish and left the bird in a ditch.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are offering rewards totaling $2,000 for help in finding whoever did it.
Agents believe the eagle was shot a couple of days before it was found Sunday, on a tip from someone in the area.
"It had an entry and an exit" wound, Capt. Alan Bankston, the state agency's regional enforcement head for the Monroe area, said Tuesday. "We believe that it was in fact shot. But we can't verify that."
It's at least the fifth bald eagle killed this year. Bald eagles shot earlier this year were found Jan. 8 in Letts, Iowa; in late February in Pikeville, Tenn.; March 8 east of Crossville, Tenn.; and in late March in Wise, N.C.
A federal lab will do a necropsy on the eagle to determine cause of death, Bankston said.
"To see any protected animal decapitated in a ditch is disheartening enough, let alone the animal that represents our symbol of freedom," Bankston said.
He said the killing doesn't seem to have been done to sell on the black market because the talons, wing and tail feathers were intact.
Killing or beheading the eagle could be charges under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Felony conviction for breaking either law can bring up to a $250,000 fine and two years in prison.
Anyone with information should call Louisiana's Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-442-2511.