DNR offering reward for who shot, killed, dumped Great Blue Heron by dumpster

Published: Nov. 18, 2016 at 5:50 PM EST
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News 12 NBC 26 / Friday, November 18, 2016

BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is offering a reward for information on who shot, killed, and dumped a Great Blue Heron by a Burke County dumpster.

At the end of a long, country road sit four dumpsters ridden with flies and smelling as wretched as they look, ready to take on Burke County's trash. Earlier this week Samantha Holden sought out those dumpsters to take out her trash. Instead she found one of nature's treasures had been thrown away.

"I looked out my window and there's this Great Blue Heron just pitiful. He was laying here like for everybody to see, and he had obviously been shot by a high-powered rifle," she said.

Great Blue Herons are common around the river region. You can find them wading along almost any open shore.

As a federally protected bird, killing one is illegal, so Holton called DNR.

"At least let people know this is not OK," Holton said.

DNR rangers came out, looked, and opened an investigation, but their leads sat as empty as the big green bins. So, they took out an ad in the local newspaper with the hopes money talks.

"There is a reward offered for information," Holton said as she ran the ad.

Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus took the killing personally.

"Don't shoot my birds," she said.

Her organization has a long history with herons. You may have noticed it's their logo.

"Because whenever you're out on the river the Great Blue Heron flies in front of you if you're on a boat and it always seems to us like they were always watching over and letting everybody know what was going on, so we always viewed that as our role too," she said.

Now she's letting people know even though it's hunting season these birds are off-limits.

"In a society you follow rules, and this is a rule you don't break," Bonitatibus said. "If you need to shoot something, there are plenty of things you can shoot legally."

She hopes this was just a misguided child who didn't really know what they were doing. Otherwise, she's helping catch the person responsible. The Savannah Riverkeeper is doubling the reward DNR is offering.

Duck hunting season starts tomorrow, November 19 and runs through the 27th. The second season runs from December 10 - January 29. So, be careful where you aim, because many birds in Georgia are protected wildlife.