By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | June 22, 2018 09:23am ET
Wildlife experts have partially solved a murder mystery regarding the deaths of 13 , but they still don't know who did it.
The 13 eagles — including some so young, they hadn't yet grown their iconic white head feathers — were poisoned with a deadly pesticide known as carbofuran, according to a six-month investigation first .
Carbofuran is highly toxic — just one granule of it can kill a small bird, . The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of liquid carbofuran in food crops in 2009, but many people still likely have aging containers of the pesticide in their sheds, Karyn Bischoff, a toxicologist at Cornell University's Animal Health Diagnostic Center, . [ ]
The 13 dead bald eagles () were first discovered by a man looking for deer antlers on Maryland's eastern shore in February 2016. After finding four of the dead birds, the man called the Maryland Natural Resources Police, who later found nine more when they came out to investigate the site in Federalsburg, .
The bald eagle is a federally protected bird, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent the following six months investigating the birds' deaths, interviewing more than a dozen landowners and property managers near the scene of the crime. But "there was no smoking gun," John LaCorte, a special agent with the Fish and Wildlife Service, told The Washington Post. "It's very frustrating."
Carbofuran once killed up to 2 million birds each year, according to the EPA. The pellet form of the pesticide, which looks like grain seeds, was banned in the mid-1990s, when bald eagles were still on the .