Father, kids witness bald eagle beating

Father, kids witness bald eagle beating
Father, kids witness bald eagle beating

By KOMO Staff
LA CONNER, Wash. -- Federal agents have launched an investigation into the clubbing of an injured bald eagle.

Jason Rowell and his children spotted a bald eagle lingering along a local dock on Swinomish Tribe land. Rowell's 12-year-old daughter began snapping photos of the bird with her cell phone.

"You could walk up within 15 feet of this eagle," he said.

But what they witnessed next sent them screaming.

Rowell said a man he recognized snatched his young son's BB gun.

"As soon as the eagle was close enough to the beach, he whacked it in the back of the head," he said.

Rowell warned the man, whom he described as a Swinomish Tribe member, that killing a bald eagle is a federal offense. A felony conviction can carry up to two years in prison.

But the man said he was trying to put the bird, which he knew to be injured, out of its misery.

"He told me he was here to take care of it, and someone said it was over here," he said.

Rowell called 911 as he watched the man pick up a 6-foot long piece of driftwood and begin clubbing the eagle.

"He broke the stick when (it) hit the eagle, snapped the stick in half," he said.

The eagle didn't die. Tribal police responded and let Rowell bring the bird to a rescue group.

The bird was later euthanized due to a new leg injury.

"Never witnessed anything like it, and it's all for nothing," Rowell said.

The bird's attacker reportedly told a relative nobody was helping the hurt eagle, so he took matters into his own hands, hurting the revered eagle that tops every totem pole in town.

The Swinomish Tribal chair said he's saddened by this incident. Taking an eagle's life is not only a violation of the law, but also a culturally unacceptable practice. He said the tribal member who clubbed the bird made a choice and will have to live with the consequences.

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