GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that two men from New Boston confessed to killing a 2-year-old female eagle on Saturady, Oct. 5.

Conservation Officers Steve Converse and Joseph Myers found the eagle after it had been shot and transported it to Wings of Wonder, a raptor education, rehabilitation and research facility in Leelanau County. Staff determined the eagle would not be able to survive surgery and euthanized it Monday afternoon.

“The pellets caused multiple fractures in both of her wings, some of which had completely shattered some of the bones,” said Rebecca Lessard, Wings of Wonder executive director. “There was just too much damage; she was not a surgical candidate.”

The DNR said local fishing guides witnessed the incident, and the two men — ages 53 and 24 — shot the eagle in a wooded area near the Bear Creek access site on the Manistee River in Brown Township. The guides saw the eagle flying, heard a gunshot and saw the eagle fall from the sky.

The guides saw the men who shot the eagle about 100 yards away picking up decoys from the ground. When one of the guides approached the suspect, he got his identification, and the suspect said they knew they had "messed up."

The guides immediately reported the incident to the DNR Report All Poaching hotline around 8:40 a.m. Saturday.

Converse and Myers obtained full confessions from the men.

“They said they saw the bird coming across the sun and thought it was a goose,” Converse said. “After they shot it, they realized it wasn’t a goose. When they walked away, they knew it was still alive but claimed they had no phone service so they couldn’t call to report the eagle.”

One of the river guides escorted Converse and Myers about 1.5 miles downriver from the access site to where the guides believe the eagle went down. The officers hiked about 150 yards up a hill where the found the eagle crawling on the ground. A sheriff's deputy provided a dog crate to transport the eagle to Wings of Wonder.

The DNR will submit a report to the Manistee County prosecutor's office to determine if charges will be authorized.

If you witness or suspect a natural resource violation, call or text the Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. Dispatchers are available 24/7. Learn more about Michigan’s conservation officers at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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