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MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – A bald eagle has been shot in the Mid-South. Now one Memphis doctor is providing hope by nursing the rare bird back to health.
While the bird awaits surgery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers are on the hunt for the person who shot the five-year-old bald eagle. It is a federal offense and a felony.
"This is our national bird," veterinarian Dr. David Hannon said. "Some idiot with a shotgun blew it out of the sky. That's just appalling there are people who would do that."
The bald eagle was shot in Silerton on the Chester/Hardeman County line on highway 125.
"The bird was actually found off the side of the road. This guy said he saw it hopping on the side of the road," U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer Matt Canada said.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers say the man took the bird to a nearby vet's office. Then he was transported to Cordova to Memphis Veterinary Specialists.
Dr. David Hannon says the bird named Abe, after Abraham Lincoln, has severe injuries.
"He's got several pellets primarily in the right side of his body," said Dr. Hannon.
Abe's right wing is broken, and he has a fractured left femur likely, Hannon says, from the fall from the air.
The bird is not eating or drinking because he is stressed, so he is getting IV fluids. And we were there for a feeding.
The eagle is in bad shape. He can't stand up has padding to help prop him up. Usually they perch on something like a tree limb.
Doctors will operate on Abe Friday.
"We've got to put a place on his leg," Dr. Hannon said.
Hannon isn't sure yet how the wing will be repaired. He says he will have to be 100 percent if he is to be released into the wild.
Wildlife officers believe the bird was shot on purpose.
"Whoever shot it knew what they were shooting," said Canada.
Dr. David Hannon said if Abe cannot be released into the wild, there are plenty of zoos like the Memphis Zoo, or a nature center or even a breeding program. Wildlife officers are working hard to find out who shot the eagle. There is a $7, 500 reward.