Long Island police are investigating the theft of a bald eagle from Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Long Island. The majestic bird, named Sammy, has a partially amputated wing, and a spokesperson from the refuge told us, "We just want to reiterate to the public that the eagle cannot survive on its own in the wild or without being in our care."
The Quogue Police Department says that the 35-year-old bald eagle was discovered missing between 3 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. on Tuesday from the refuge at 3 Old Country Road. “Upon further investigation, it was observed that the eagle’s enclosure had been cut with a sharp instrument and the fencing was pulled back to allow access. The eagle was removed from its enclosure and taken to an unknown location," the police said in a statement.
Surveillance footage from the Quogue Wildlife Center shows the eagle-napper, who also apparently drove over a Long Island Rail Road track which reportedly has a license plate reader.
"He's always in good spirits, hopping round the wildlife preserve, eating mice, and making weird eagle noises," a frequent visitor to the refuge told us.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought Sammy to the refuge in 1988, after he suffered a gunshot wound in its right wing. The wing was partially amputated, and he is on a special diet. "This is his home," a staffer from the Quogue Wildlife Refuge said. She added, "This is a federal crime—even the eagle's feathers are federally protected."
Sammy the Bald Eagle (Courtesy of Josh Reznick)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explains (PDF):
Eagles are directly protected under
two Federal laws: the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These laws generally prohibit the possession, use, and sale of eagle feathers and parts as well as a number of other activities.
Such restrictions help ensure the future viability of eagles in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, however, has long recognized the religious and cultural significance of eagles to Native Americans and works to accommodate these special needs.
The Service operates the National Eagle Repository as a clearinghouse for eagles and eagle parts to provide Native Americans with eagle feathers for religious use.
The Quogue Wildlife Center is working with the Quogue Village Police and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Quogue Village Police Department at 631-653-4791.
This post has been updated to clarify that there the LIRR track reportedly has a license plate reader.