A reward of up to $12,500, an increase from the previous amount of $10,000, is being offered for the return of a bald eagle stolen from the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, police said at a news conference at Suffolk County headquarters Saturday.
Suffolk Police Chief Stuart Cameron said the increase in reward for the eagle stolen Tuesday, was "motivated by concern" and he wouldn't be surprised if it went higher.
"That eagle is a longtime resident of Quogue Village, and we really want to get it back," Cameron said.
The $12,500 includes $5,000 each from the Suffolk County SPCA and the Nassau County SPCA, said SPCA chief Roy Gross. The additional $2,500 from Suffolk County Crime Stoppers — which would be paid within 72 hours of an arrest — was offered when "SPCA got a call from the assistant director of Quogue Wildlife Refuge and asked us for any assistance we could provide," he added.
The Quogue Village police are tracking leads and searching camera captures from private and public locations in the investigation.
"Our main concern is the eagle's safety and welfare," refuge director Michael Nelson said.
The bald eagle, named Sam, arrived at the refuge 31 years ago after a gunshot wound left him flightless, and he has been eating a combination of fish, venison or rats daily, supplemented with vitamins.
Nelson considers Sam "part of the family" and is hoping for another 10 or 11 years with him. In captivity, bald eagles can livemore than 50 years, he said.
"If looked after by a vet and with a proper diet, there's no reason he shouldn't survive," Nelson said.
Anyone with information should call Quogue police at 631-653-4791 or Suffolk police at 800-220-8477 or text “SCPD” and the message to “CRIMES” (274637). Callers may remain anonymous.
The Suffolk SPCA can be reached at 631-382-7722.