Pennsylvania bald eagle poaching suspect turns self in after shocking slay of neighborhood mascot

A suspected Pennsylvania poacher has surrendered to authorities after allegedly shooting a protected bald eagle and angering community members who adored their local pair of raptors.

However, the suspect’s name has not been publicly released, and concerned residents say they aren’t even sure whether he or she has been charged.

Police in Mount Pleasant Township, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, released a surveillance image showing a white SUV near where neighbors found the slain bird of prey near the Cherry Valley Dam.

The eagle was one of two adults in the neighborhood, adored by local residents, who told Fox News Digital the pair had two eaglets shortly before the slaying.

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Eagle perched in tree, inset: eagle dead on ground

A mature bald eagle from Mount Pleasant Township in Pennsylvania. Inset: A poacher killed the raptor with a single gunshot in May and left it dead in a field. (Shannon Kuzio, Pennsylvania Game Commission)

“Everybody in the community has a pair of binoculars on the window sill in their kitchen, and we’re all very protective of all of our wildlife in our lake,” said Linda Carnevali, a concerned resident of the Cherry Valley Lakeview Estates.

The eagle pair had been in the area for nearly two decades, she said, almost always together except when they were protecting their clutches or newly hatched eaglets, when one would always remain at the nest.

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White SUV parked near wooden fence and grassy field

Mount Pleasant police released this image of a suspect vehicle, which they say led to tips and ultimately a suspect who confessed to killing the bald eagle. (Mount Pleasant Township Police Department)

“So you always knew when you only saw one of them that there were some babies around,” Carnevali said.

And they just hatched two, according to community members.

Within days of the poaching, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said in a statement that tips had led investigators to the suspect, who “admitted to all aspects of the crime.”

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Two bald eagles in a nest in a tree

Two mature bald eagles in their nest in Mount Pleasant Township, Pennsylvania. One of them was killed by a poacher in May, shortly after they hatched two eaglets.  (Shannon Kuzio)

Authorities did not release a name, and a spokesperson for the Game Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We’re devastated that this would happen, and we don’t understand why somebody would do this,” Carnevali told Fox News Digital. “And… we don’t understand why this is so secretive.”

Eagle Silhouette

A mature bald eagle from Mount Pleasant Township, Pennsylvania. One of two adult raptors in the community was killed by a single gunshot wound, according to authorities. A suspect later turned himself in and admitted to the crime, police said. (Shannon Kuzio)

Bald eagle populations are recovering around the country – decades after they were placed on the endangered species list, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Threats to the species include habitat destruction, poaching and the contamination of their food supply with chemicals and pesticides, federal officials say.

Bald Eagle eating on log in water

Local residents adored their bald eagle neighbors, keeping an eye out for them and taking numerous photos shared on the community Facebook group. However, according to Mount Pleasant police, one of the area’s two mature bald eagles was shot dead by a poacher in May. (Shannon Kuzio)

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According to authorities, birdwatchers should stay at least 100 yards away from bald eagles.

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