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Hawk released after recovering from gunshot

By KELLY NIX

Published: August 23, 2013

A HAWK that suffered a broken wing after being shot by a BB gun was released back into the wild Thursday morning.

SPCA for Monterey County officials rescued the red-tailed hawk in the Corral de Tierra area on July 10 after a resident called the animal welfare organization.

“The hawk was walking around somebody’s backyard and unable to fly,” SPCA spokeswoman Beth Brookhouser told The Pine Cone.

After undergoing surgery to repair the broken wing and subsequent physical therapy to regain proper mobility, the hawk was released at 11:15 a.m. When SPCA Wildlife Rescue Center supervisor Jessica Shipman let the bird go, he flew about five feet, landed, then sauntered to a nearby tree.

“He hopped up to the top branches and looked around for a while, surveying the area,” Brookhouser said. “A few minutes later he took off and flew out of sight. It was wonderful to see him fly free again.”

The SPCA, Brookhouser said, released the hawk in the general area where he were found, in part, so he can find his mate ... if he has one.

Veterinarians at the Avian and Exotic Clinic in Monterey and the SPCA wildlife center treated the hawk. X-rays showed the bird had a BB embedded in its left wing and a fractured ulna.

Once vets at the exotic clinic anesthetized the hawk and removed the BB from its wing, it was bandaged up and given pain medication and antibiotics. When the bird was strong enough and the bone had healed, SPCA workers began the delicate task of physical therapy.

“We moved his wings to get the muscles moving again,” Brookhouser said.

The bird had been kept in the SPCA’s largest aviary, an L-shaped enclosure that allows workers to determine if the recovering birds can fly left and right, which Brookhouser said the hawk was able to do with no problem.

Red-tailed hawks are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to pursue, hunt, capture, kill or sell birds on the list without obtaining a special waiver.

The SPCA doesn’t often see predatory birds with gunshot wounds. More often, they’re hit by cars, Brookhouser said.

The SPCA is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who shot the hawk. The organization can be reached at (831) 373-2631.