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Orlando Delgado

Texas teen kills bald eagle; outrage sparks

by Leigh Egan

A Harris County, Texas, teenager was arrested after killing an American bald eagle on Tuesday.

KPRC reports that Orlando David Delgado, 17, allegedly hunted in the Woodland Oaks neighborhood without first getting the property owner’s permission. While hunting, he reportedly shot a bald eagle near Highway 290.

According to a witness, three males were standing near an area where the bald eagle nested for at least a few years. One of the males had a high-powered pellet rifle in his hand. The witness found the deceased eagle shortly after and promptly called the police. Although the suspect with the gun fled the scene, another witness told authorities where to find the truck he left in, which led police to Delgado.

Delgado explained that he shot the eagle several times after the first shot didn’t kill it.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided against prosecuting Delgado given his young age, which sparked outrage across the community and among numerous social media users.

“My son came out and I told him what happened. He was about in tears,” said Harris County resident, Dale Jozwiak.

Another resident, Erica Garcia, said that she saw the eagle eating fish recently, before it was killed. She was shocked that someone would harm such an “amazing” animal.

“We had to just sit there for at least a couple of minutes and just watch it. It was just amazing. You don’t see that every day.”

Jozwiak said he watched over the eagle for around five years prior to the tragic shooting. He stood next to the bird and guarded it until police arrived.

“I’ve watched the eagle for over five years and thought it was my responsibility to just stand guard over the eagle, where no one would take it away or (have any) disregard of it.”

Under the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act, it’s illegal to “disturb” bald eagles, meaning it’s against the law to harm them, their nests, or their eggs, in any manner. Anyone caught violating the act faces a year in prison and fines up to $100,000.

Since federal agents didn’t charge Delgado for killing the eagle, he’s only facing a misdemeanor charge of hunting without the landowner’s consent.

[Feature Photo: Harris County Sheriff’s Department]

Leigh Egan is a crime-fighting journalist and editor who specializes in breaking news and investigative true crime coverage. With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Leigh’s work can be found in a number of high-profile national publications. For Leigh, learning didn’t stop after college. She considers herself a lifelong learner who frequently takes media and journalism courses to keep abreast of the latest happenings and innovations in her field.