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Steller’s Sea Eagle with 20 Shotgun Pellets in Its Head, Body Found in Hokkaido

Courtesy of the Environment Ministry
A Steller’s sea eagle receives first aid.

A Steller’s sea eagle, a bird species designated as a national natural treasure, has been found in Nayoro, Hokkaido, with about 20 shotgun pellets inside it, the Hokkaido Regional Environment Office said Thursday.

The injured bird is now receiving medical treatment at an Environment Ministry facility. The capture and killing of Steller’s sea eagles is prohibited under the Law on Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The office reported the incident to the Nayoro Police Station on suspicion of a violation of the law and is looking into how the bird was shot.

According to the office, a local resident spotted the injured Steller’s sea eagle on Dec. 22 last year in a forest in the city. After being contacted, ministry employees put the bird under protection. An examination showed that about 20 shotgun pellets were found in its head and body. They appeared to be lead shotgun shells commonly used for hunting waterfowl and other animals. About a month had passed since the Steller’s sea eagle was shot.