JOHN DAY - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the conviction of the person who shot and killed a juvenile bald eagle in January.

Special Agent Jim Stinebaugh said the body of the immature eagle was found about Jan. 15 in the John Day River, caught up in some ice, just west of John Day.

It may have been dead for a couple of weeks, he said. Authorities sent the body to the USFWS forensic laboratory in Ashland to determine the cause of death.

Stinebaugh said bullet fragments indicated that the eagle was shot with a high-caliber rifle.

Killing a bald eagle is prohibited by the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Stinebaugh said the penalty for someone convicted of killing an eagle could be up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

The crime is a class A misdemeanor, but it becomes a felony for a second offense.

Stinebaugh said that such incidents aren't that uncommon, "unfortunately." He said his agency has found people killing eagles to collect their feathers or out of concern for livestock.

"And some people just like to do foolish things," he said.

He said the eagle shot near John Day was still in the speckled stage, with a "peppery look" rather than the full white head and tail of a mature eagle.

However, he said the bird's size would make it difficult to mistake. If anything, it might look like a golden eagle - another protected bird.

He said Oregon State Police officers would be putting up reward notices in town this week, probably at the Post Office and other locations.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact Stinebaugh at (503) 682-6131.

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