PALM HARBOR — Wildlife authorities are investigating the death of an osprey that was found Tuesday morning in a Palm Harbor neighborhood.
The adult male bird, which was found on a sidewalk near 2539 Shoreline Circle in the Cobb's Landing neighborhood, was taken to Busch Gardens, where a veterinary X-ray revealed metal fragments lodged in its body, officials said. Investigators are trying to determine how the bird died, but the fragments indicate it was shot.
"We take this very, very seriously," said Robert Scholl, an officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We have a lot of officers working on it right now. There are a lot of people who are very upset about it."
Both federal and state laws prohibit the killing of ospreys. Doing so can result in hefty fines and possible jail time.
The Audubon Society is assisting state wildlife officials in trying to determine how the bird died. The society has offered a $700 reward for information leading to an arrest of anyone responsible for killing the bird, Scholl said. Wildlife officials plan to offer additional reward money.
"It's a big deal," Scholl said. "You don't mess with these types of birds."
The wildlife commission is asking anyone with information to call (888) 404-3922.
Times staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report.