Federal authorities are offering a reward to help find who dumped the severed feet of four bald eagles and four other raptors believed to be owls in a residential area recently in the east metro area.

The gruesome discovery was made Thursday by a passerby in Woodbury along the west side of Cherry Lane, roughly 500 feet south of Lake Road, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said Monday.

All 16 feet had the talon removed from each toe and were left in tall grass just off the sidewalk, said the Wildlife Service, which is being assisted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the investigation.

“A lucrative commercial market exists in raptor parts,” Patrick Lund, FWS resident agent in charge, said in a statement accompanying the reward announcement. “We believe the talons from the raptor feet found in Woodbury may have been used to make jewelry for commercial sale.”

 

Agency spokeswoman Tina Shaw said Tuesday that “we suspect that the other migratory birds are owls and are waiting for confirmation from our forensics lab in Oregon.”

The FWS, which is responsible for protecting wildlife from poaching, illegal commercialization and similar crimes, is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to charges in this case.

Bald eagles, the nation’s symbol since 1782, and other raptors have been protected by federal law since 1940 under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

The maximum penalty for unlawful taking or possession of a bald eagle or bald eagle parts, a misdemeanor, is one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. A second offense is a felony.

In what was described at the time as a first of its kind in Minnesota, a man from Perham was given two years of probation and fined $9,500 in 2000 for killing a bald eagle.

Anyone with information about this latest case or other bald eagle killings should contact FWS Special Agent Andrew Daiber at 651-778-8360, DNR conservation officer Joe Kulhanek at 612-271-8044 or Minnesota’s Turn in Poachers hotline at 1-800-652-9093.