Golden Eagle Euthanized After Leg Caught in Steel Trap

From Billings Gazette (Montana)
By The Associated Press

MISSOULA -- A golden eagle caught in a steel leg trap near Missoula suffered an irreparable leg injury and was euthanized, state wildlife officials said.

Jeff Darrah, warden captain with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, said it isn't clear where the trap was set, but it was illegal for several reasons.

The eagle apparently carried the 3-pound trap for several days over an unknown distance before it was found in a grove of trees in Clinton Friday afternoon.

Darrah took the bird to Kate Davis, executive director of Raptors of the Rockies, a wild bird education organization in Florence. The bird was a healthy adult male weighing about 8 pounds, but its leg was injured beyond repair by the weight of the trap. Davis consulted with a veterinarian and a raptor rehabilitation specialist before euthanizing the bird Saturday.

"It's very sad," she said. "He was a beautiful bird. There's no reason this had to happen."

State officials said the trap appeared to have been set by an inexperienced trapper because it was not properly anchored and it had its original steel finish, which experienced trappers turn brown with dye and wax so it blends into the environment.

The trap did not have a tag with the trapper's name, as is required by law.

State trapping law prohibits using large bait that can be seen by soaring raptors. When large bait is used, traps must not be put within 30 feet of the bait, in part, to avoid catching raptors.

"This sounds like a rank, rank beginner, probably a kid" or a poacher, said Bob Sheppard, a vice president of the Montana Trappers Association. "It's not something an experienced, conscientious trapper would do."

Killing an eagle or possessing illegally obtained eagle feathers or body parts is a felony because the birds are federally protected, but Darrah said there's no way to determine who set the trap, unless someone calls with a tip.

The eagle will be sent to the National Eagle Repository in Denver, where the feathers are given to American Indian tribes for religious purposes.

Reference link: ... e-trap.txt

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