Instead of soaring the skies, a juvenile bald eagle was discovered injured last week on Independence Day.
"When we got right here we could see something off in the distance," said Brian Goodman with the Susquehannock Wildlife Society.
The Harford County man and some friends spent the afternoon of July 4th at Swan Harbor Farm.
"The eagle was laying just off the path here with its wings spread and facing towards the water, and we knew immediately that something was wrong," he said.
The massive raptor was a juvenile bald eagle, too young to grow the signature white feathers on its head and tail.
Goodman says the bird was panting like a dog in the hot sun, and its wing was twisted.
"We actually grabbed a trashcan and a cone from around here and set up a stick and put some shirts up on it to create some sun block for it,” said Goodman. “Got a bag and put some water on it, and it was actually drinking a little bit out of the bag.”
A Natural Resources Police Officer arrived, and using blankets and the trash can, the group was able to move the eagle into a car to keep it cool with the air conditioning.
Officials immediately started reaching out to area wildlife rehabilitation groups.
“You could tell something else was a little wrong with it, we did see a little bit of blood on it too, but at that point we thought it was an impact injury, that it had hit a pole or hit the ground or something,” Goodman said. “There was no way any of us coulda known at that point that it had been shot."
The bird of prey was examined, and Natural Resources Police say an x-ray revealed a pellet was lodged in the eagle's spine. It couldn't be saved, and was put down.
NRP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are now looking for the person who shot the bird. If you know anything call 410-260-8888.
Bald eagles are no longer endangered, but the raptors are still protected by state and federal laws. Anyone convicted of killing a bald eagle can face up to a $250,000 fine and up to two years behind bars.