BELLWOOD - The operator of an Antis Township wildlife rehabilitation center illegally took in an injured bald eagle, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Deborah E. O'Shell, 63, of 393 Igou Road, Bellwood, faces three misdemeanor charges related to the possession of migratory and protected birds. The charges stem from an investigation that started in September with a visit to the Blair County Wildlife Rehabilitation Center by Game Commission officers after a tip that a bald eagle was there, according to court records.
When reached by phone Friday, O'Shell referred the matter to her attorneys who were not available for comment. O'Shell said it was her understanding that some sort of settlement would be worked out regarding the charges, which include two summary offenses.
O'Shell denied a bald eagle was ever at the center, but said she had noticed one flying in the area, according to the charges filed before Magisterial District Judge Fred B. Miller.
Wildlife conservation officers allegedly interviewed two men several days later who claimed to have taken an injured adult male bald eagle to the rehabilitation center and turned it over to O'Shell.
Officers said when they interviewed O'Shell again, she again denied taking in the bird but then conceded someone else possibly took the bird. The Game Commission claims O'Shell said she didn't remember because "she was drunk or under the influence of drugs," and she went on to say she sometimes forgets to feed or check on the animals in her care.
O'Shell ultimately admitted to taking in the bald eagle, but she believed it was released by an intern, the commission said.
Bald eagles were once on the endangered species list but were removed in 2007 after the population grew, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on its website.
O'Shell is the subject of an ongoing investigation into federal and state wildlife laws and was convicted of a federal misdemeanor in 2009 for violating aspects of the law governing the federal special purpose permit for migratory birds, records show.
Because of the federal conviction, O'Shell was denied a permit, according to the Game Commission.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 18.