Severed Feet of Bald Eagles Found in Minnesota, With Talons Removed From Each Toe

Investigators are appealing for help after the severed feet of eight raptors were found dumped by the side of a residential street in Minnesota.

All 16 feet were missing their talons, which investigators suspect may have been taken to make jewelry.

Raptors are protected by federal law and four of the eight pairs have been identified as the feet of bald eagles, the national bird of the U.S.

A forensic examination is under way to seek more evidence, but investigators believe the birds' bodies have been sold.

"A lucrative commercial market exists in raptor parts," said Patrick Lund, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent. "We believe the talons from the raptor feet may have been used to make jewelry for commercial sale."

The feet were discovered on Thursday, November 12, in tall grass just off the sidewalk of Cherry Lane, in a residential area close to the city of Woodbury.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest or conviction.

Bald eagles were listed as an endangered species in 1967, having come close to being wiped out in the U.S. by hunting, habitat destruction and the use of the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). The substance affected the structure of many birds' egg shells, making them too thin or brittle to protect their offspring.

The protections afforded by endangered status, reintroduction programmes and the banning of DDT in 1972 helped eagle populations to recover. In 2007 the bald eagle was removed from the U.S. endangered and threatened wildlife list. Earlier this year, a bald eagle nest with eggs was discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years.

"It's fitting that our national symbol has also become a symbol of the great things that happen through cooperative conservation," the Fish and Wildlife Service said in 2007.

The maximum penalty for the unlawful capture or possession of a bald eagle or bald eagle parts is one-year imprisonment and/or a $100,000 fine, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which prohibits the commercial trapping and killing of the birds, a second offense would be classifiable as a felony.

bald eagle hunting fish pond
An American bald eagle carries a freshly caught fish at Mill Pond on August 10, 2018 in Centerport, New York. The severed feet of eight raptors, including four bald eagles, have been found in Woodbury, Minnesota, and wildlife agents have launched an investigation. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images