CEDAR CITY, Utah, March 2 (UPI) — A golden eagle hit by a car in Utah suffered more serious injuries after the collision, when someone plucked its tail feathers, a wildlife rehabilitator says.
Martin Tyner of the Southwest Wildlife Foundation said the feathers were pulled out, an operation that would have required pliers, shortly after the eagle was struck, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The bird was brought to the foundation Sunday by Lt. Scott Dalebout of the state Division of Wildlife Resources after it was found in Sevier County.
Whether it was done by the person who hit the bird or by someone who found it shortly afterward, the removal would have been painful, Tyner said. The feathers are embedded 1.5 inches under the skin.
“It would be equivalent to a person being held on the ground and having their fingernails ripped out with pliers,” he added.
Eagle tail feathers are important for some American Indian rituals, but possession without a special permit is illegal. Bonnie Bell of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said poachers typically kill birds and remove the claws as well as the tail feathers.
Tyner said the eagle cannot be returned to the wild unless the tail feathers regenerate.
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