unfortunately, even if it died on its own, you can't have it in possession legally. You might contact US Fish and Wildlife Service to see if there is a way to donate it to a collection and/or procure some materials with the proper permitting. You never know...you might get lucky.
Just went through this last weekend! I live across from a huge breeding colony near the Anacortes refinery (Padilla Bay, BayView Skagit County) and while my kids and I were doing yardwork a Heron came in low, so low and awkwardly it grabbed my attention. I thought nothing of it until an hour later I saw it dead in the tall grass by my house.
My kids were just mesmorized by it's beauty and were able to touch it's still warm body. We have dozens that fly over our house every day so it was great to get up close. I do remember hearing a distant shotgun blast maybe 30 minutes before and noticed blood and some damaged feathers but nothing too serious. Frankly, I didn't examine too closely.
My wife contacted fish & wildlife but we didn't get a call back for a few days and by then I had tossed it in the burn pile. The woman I spoke to was acutely interested in taking the body and said that there have been 'an increasing number' of heron's found dead from this colony. She would not go into detail.
Anyway, she thanked me profusely for taking the time to call. She said that it was important for their records (location, possible cause of death, etc.) She asked if we'd volunteer to keep track of the heron's on our property and would send us more information.
Anyway, my experience was that its valuable to let someone know what you found. Probably worth a phone-call.
i just got off the phone with wildlife management and research. they asked for the location and description and recomend not even touching the bird due to possible health hazards. I guess blue eared pheasant isnt so bad, and it probably wont kill me with some exotic virus.
Montana's right but there's a good solution. Last roadkill heron I had came out perfect by doing a 1/2 day marinade, then slow-cooking directly on a cedar plank via BBQ. Remember, use briquettes vs. gas, and low-low heat w/ cover on. That smokey cedar taste will chase the evil right out of it. :ray1: