The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting of a burrowing owl on the Caja del Rio Plateau near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the case.

The Case: The owl was found dead just days after being photographed on June 27 with the bird’s mate. The bird was missing a leg, and X-rays showed shrapnel in the animal’s wing and shoulder.

The U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects burrowing owls from capture or killing. If caught, the shooter faces up to six months in prison and a $500 fine.

Prairie dog control programs have destroyed the homes of burrowing owls that nest in prairie dog burrows. Burrowing owl populations have declined as increasing agriculture, development, and extermination campaigns result in the destruction of prairie dog colonies.

“Burrowing owls are a prominent member of complex prairie ecosystems as well as a beloved subject for wildlife photographers and bird enthusiasts,” said Heather Carpenter, Western regional director for the HSUS. “Seeing one of these animated and charismatic birds shot down for no apparent reason is baffling. The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are committed to thoroughly investigating this matter and we fully support their efforts to find the responsible party.”

The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the case and have increased patrols in the area. In addition to the criminal investigation, the Bureau of Land Management has increased law enforcement patrols in the area. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the BLM Special Agent at 505-954-2095.

The Prairie Dog Coalition, a program of the HSUS, is a coalition of nonprofit organizations working to protect prairie dogs and their habitat. The HSUS and the Trust work with State and Federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspected poachers. Other services include assistance with internet wildlife trafficking investigations, donation of robotic decoys and forensic equipment, funds to support wildlife K-9 programs, outreach to prosecutors to encourage vigorous prosecution of poachers, and legislative work to strengthen penalties for poaching.

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