QUOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There’s a strange search taking place on the east end of Long Island.
Police are looking for a bald eagle after it was cut from his cage at a preserve.
The crime was committed at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, a bucolic, historic, 300 acre non-profit nature preserve for permanently injured wildlife, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reporte.d
The 35-year-old bald eagle nicknamed Sammy has been part of the refuge for decades, ever since the bird was shot by a hunter. His right wing was amputated. Sammy could no longer fly, and was lovingly cared for by staff, and was a favorite of visitors.
Sammy is a federally protected animal.
Sometime after a big weekend charity event, police say someone with a sharp instrument sliced through multiple fences in the middle of the night and made off with the majestic bird.
“There was a guy who cut through cages and put him in a bag,” one child told McLogan.
“Video that we did see on surveillance cameras showed that it was either a blanket or a bag,” said Michael Nelson of the Quogue wildlife refuge.
The suspect escaped in a vehicle parked out of camera range.
“Some of the kids are really upset. They’ve been coming here their whole lives and look forward to seeing him,” said one visitor to the refuge.
Surveillance cameras caught a perpetrator fleeing the property with the bird concealed in a blanket or bag in the dark of night.
“They might not know, if they have any food, how to feed him food,” said one child visiting the refuge.
“We try to keep our cages really secure. Secure for people’s safety, secure for the animal’s safety. Padlocked, closed up. They broke in, cut in through the cage, and stole him,” said Marisa Nelson of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. “We have no idea right now who took the bird. We are certainly concerned about his welfare, and right now time is of the essence.”
“It’s a shame. I don’t understand why someone would do such a thing. Its been such a part of the refuge for so many years, part of the family for the refuge and the community,” said Michael Nelson.
It’s feared whoever has the bald eagle will not know how to care for it and the bird’s life could be in danger.
Patrons and staff are pleading for Sammy’s safe return.
Anyone with any information is asked to call (631) 653-4771 or send an email.