The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Putnam County Sheriff's Department are searching for a crossbow hunter who illegally shot a fledgling red-tailed hawk that managed to live with an arrow lodged in its body for weeks before passing away, despite the best efforts of environmental rehabilitators.
"It's so difficult for wildlife to survive in the first year [of their lives]," said Wildlife Rehabilitator Annemarie Lucas, who took part in the capture and care of the injured bird. "To have their life taken away for something as disgusting as this makes everyone so angry.... to take away their life like [this] is disgusting and unacceptable."
Red hawks have a usual lifespan of ten to 15 years, and can live up to 20 years in captivity, according to researchers at Washington State University.
The field point arrow used to shoot the young hawk has a serial number, and is in the possession of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. However, the agency is still looking for leads in this investigation.
"Somebody knows something," said Lucas. "You know who the crossbow hunters are in your neighborhood."
Per the federal Migratory Birds Act, those who kill hawks and other protected animals without a permit face fines of up to $15,000 and six months in prison per offense in addition to fines and jail time associated with state laws protecting the birds.
According to Dr. John Wilson at the Brewster Veterinary hospital, who removed the arrow from the female hawk's body, the arrow had fractured her femur.
"You're not supposed to be shooting those things," said Wilson. "Most of the wildlife we get are usually hit by cars of little birds flying into windows. Not so much people knowingly going out and shooting them."
Wilson said the animal passed away on Monday, Oct. 26, two days after the arrow had been successfully removed.
The injured hawk was initially discovered and captured in the area of Knollwood Road in Mohegan Lake on Sunday, Oct. 3, and may have lived with the arrow in its body for a longer period.
On Monday, Oct. 6, the animal escaped the care of wildlife rehabilitators before it was scheduled to see a veterinarian. Rehabbers took to Facebook groups, like The Hudson Valley in Pictures and Animal Nation, asking area residents if they had seen the injured bird.
After a number of sightings, including at the top of the Putnam Valley Library, the hawk was recaptured on Sunday, Oct. 11 at approximately 9:30 a.m. on East Hill Road in Putnam Valley. Tired and injured, the animal was reportedly sitting in a resident's backyard and was captured by rehabbers with a net.
Those who may have witnessed the incident or have leads that could lead to the arrest of the shooter are asked to contact Officer Matt Thibodeau with the New York Department of Conservation Police at 877-457-5680 or Putnam County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Humane Law Enforcement Detective Sargeant Ken Ross III at 845-520-6915.
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