SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Officials are investigating the cause of death of one of our country's most influential symbols.
A white-tailed bald eagle died Sunday night after it was found injured in a vineyard just outside of Whitehouse. The owners called authorities but the bird later died.
The Lloyd family owns a 100-acre cider vineyard in Smith County. While they were working yesterday, they noticed an extremely large white head sticking out of the trees.
"What in this world is that? I turned around and said, 'My goodness, it's a bald eagle,'" Chris Lloyd says.
Lloyd says the bird of prey was very weak and could barely hold its head up, so he immediately called the Smith County game warden.
"They're a lot larger and harder to capture, and I am not expecting the general public to capture it, so I came out here to see what I could do," Smith County Game Warden Brad Clark says.
Clark says he noticed puncture wounds and claw marks on the eagle's talons.
"He had some old wounds like he had been in a fight with another eagle. We get calls about other birds all the time, and they have obvious injuries, but he didn't have any obvious injuries," Clark says.
Though Clark was able to capture the eagle and transport him to a vet in Lindale, the bird later died from its injuries.
"If this bird was killed intentionally or injured intentionally, they are looking at violating state laws, federal laws, fines and restitution that comes with that, so it can be a hefty fine at the very least and or jail time," Clark says.
Clark says it's still hard to know at this point the exact cause of death, but after the eagle was x-rayed, they noticed pneumonia in one of its lungs from being on the cold ground for several days.
"It's really sad; you hate to see that but nature is nature and these things happen," Lloyd says.
Clark says the eagle will be frozen and put in a nature reserve to be used for educational purposes.