LORETTO - A cash reward for information leading to an arrest in the investigation of a slain bald eagle has increased to more than $5,000.
Officials hope a $250 reward from the Pennsylvania Game Commission and a $5,000 reward from The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Trust will lead to information about the slain bird, which was discovered May 10 in Allegheny Township, Cambria County.
A group of passing ATV riders discovered the injured bald eagle in a field near Lincoln Road and Sharpe Road, said Tom Fazi, Game Commission Southwest Region education officer.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Shawn Harshaw transported the bird to the state veterinary laboratory in State College, where the bald eagle later died from an apparent gunshot wound.
"I'm asking the public for help," Harshaw said in a press release. "If anyone knows or hears anything about this incident, I encourage them to call our regional office. Any information we do receive will be held in strict confidence."
"This senseless act sickens me, and I will pursue every lead to find the responsible person or persons and bring them to justice," Harshaw added.
Officials have been following leads throughout the week, and the investigation is ongoing, Fazi said.
"Everybody knows not only is it not legal, it's not right to shoot a bald eagle," Fazi said. "Everyone knows it's not the right thing to do."
Bald eagles are a threatened species in Pennsylvania. If convicted of the bird's death, the culprit could face a fine of up to $5,000 plus additional federal charges, Fazi said.
The Game Commission is monitoring an active bald eagle nest near Prince Gallitzin, but the slain eagle was not from that nest and had not been tagged by the Game Commission, Fazi said.
"They're still a threatened species in Pennsylvania," said Sarah Speed, Humane Society Pennsylvania director. "And as a national symbol, there's never an excuse for the intentional harm of a bald eagle."
"We are just thrilled that the Game Commission is taking the case so seriously," Speed said.
Anyone with information about the bald eagle shooting is encouraged to call the Game Commission's southwest regional office at 724-238-9523 or the anonymous tip hotline at 888-742-8001.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.