One-winged bald eagle stolen from Long Island wildlife refuge, $12,500 reward offered

"We want him back unharmed," Quogue Wildlife Refuge said. "It is a federally-protected bird and cannot survive in the wild as he has an amputated wing."

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By Janelle Griffith

The reward for a bald eagle with an amputated wing stolen from Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Long Island, New York, has increased to $12,500, authorities said Saturday.

The 35-year-old bald eagle, known as Sam or Sammy, was stolen on July 16 between 2:15 and 4:15 a.m. after a perpetrator cut through two layers of fencing to gain access to his enclosure, the refuge said.

"He will be stressed and cannot survive without our care," the refuge said in a statement the day of the theft. "We want him back unharmed. It is a federally-protected bird and cannot survive in the wild as he has an amputated wing."

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Sam was brought to the sanctuary in 1988 by officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after a gunshot wound left him unable to fly.

He loves freshly caught fish and enjoys taking baths, according to the refuge.

Quogue Wildlife Refuge, a 300-acre nonprofit nature preserve, was founded in 1934 and is home to various wildlife.

The $12,500 reward being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case includes $5,000 each from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Nassau and Suffolk counties and $2,500 from Suffolk County Crime Stoppers.

“This investigation has led investigators throughout the tri-state area and into several states,” Quogue Village Police Chief Christopher Isola said Saturday.

Refuge director Michael Nelson said his main concern is Sam's safety.

"The eagle's been with us for 31 years and it needs a proper diet in order to survive," Nelson said.

In captivity, bald eagles can live up to 50 years, according to the National Eagle Center in Minnesota.