REYNOLDS COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Many people are sounding off about two bald eagles that were shot and killed in Wayne and Reynolds counties in recent weeks.
"They're a symbol of our nation and they should be protected and kept sacred," Tom Clemons said.
As conservation officials continue to investigate the cases, locals are upset about it and say they hope whoever committed the crimes are brought to justice.
"I think it's a shame, it's our national bird and they're beautiful," Jean Leise said. "They're pretty to look at and I think people ought to just leave them alone."
One of our nation's most majestic symbols, like the flag, the eagle, to many, represents freedom. That's why people in Ellington, Mo. aren't too happy to hear about the bird found shot to death just outside of town.
"I think it's a travesty," Clemons said. "It should be corrected."
Conservation Agent Eric Long found one of the eagles on Friday, Jan. 29.
"It's America's bird, whether they knew that or not," Long said. "It's a senseless thing. It's kind of a heartfelt to find it out in the field."
Long said more eagles have been spotted in the area in recent years, but still they're federally protected along with any other birds of prey.
"Regardless, it doesn't matter if it was a turkey vulture or an eagle, you can't shoot them, they're protected," Long said.
The other eagle was found was found in Wayne County on Jan. 24. Both were young birds that hadn't yet developed they're white heads. They were part of a rare and beautiful family.
"I wouldn't say they're common by any means, a handful of them throughout the county," Long said.
"Every once in a while we see one across the road and watch it fly around," Leise said.
Many people say they hope to be able to see eagles for years to come.
"It represents what our nation stands for beauty, freedom, they ought to be left to be free," Leise said.
This crime is punishable by an up to $250,000 fine and/or possible jail time.
If you have any information on these cases, conservation agents would like to hear from you. In Reynolds County, there is a reward for any tips that lead agents to those responsible.
Anyone that has any information on what happened with this incident is urged to call the Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111 or contact their local conservation agent.