BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In 2016, four dead bald eagles were found by a man walking in a field in Federalsberg on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
When Natural Resources Police responded, they found another nine, bringing the total to thirteen dead eagles.
“That would be the single largest die-off in more than 30 years,” NRP spokeswoman Candy Thompson said at the time. “There was no sign of trauma. No sign of gunshots.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife took over the case and sent the birds to its forensics lab in Oregon. But it took a Freedom of Information request by WNAV radio in Annapolis to find out that poison killed the eagles.
Sold under the name Furadan, the highly toxic poison is sold in some countries, but has been banned in the U.S. since the early ’90s, although some old supplies are still out there.
Investigators cannot say with certainty that the eagles were deliberately poisoned.
A partially eaten raccoon carcass was found with the eagles. It also tested positive for Furadan, meaning someone may have been targeting raccoons for poisoning and the eagles were untended secondary kills.
Still, bald eagles are a protected species, and any use of Furadan is illegal and could bring penalties if a suspect is ever found.