Shot Idaho hawks put down at Raptor Center
Teton Raptor Center this week euthanized two rough-legged hawks shot in Idaho. The X-ray above shows three pellets embedded in one of the birds and its broken bones. Photo courtesy Teton Raptor CenterView our entire photo gallery >>
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
February 15, 2013
Teton Raptor Center euthanized two rough-legged hawks that were brought to the rehabilitation center this week with wounds from shotgun blasts.
A third hawk, also a rough-legged, was found dead of gunshot wounds along the same stretch of Idaho highway near Arco, west of Idaho Falls, said Tim Klucken, a conservation officer for Idaho Fish and Game. The incidents are likely connected, Klucken said.
The two rough-leggeds that survived had injuries that would have caused lifelong issues, raptor center program associate Meghan Warren said.
“The first one we immediately put down because of the extent of his injuries,” Warren said.
A second hawk, euthanized Tuesday night, was assessed by an orthopedic surgeon before raptor center staff made the call.
“The hawk would have had bad arthritis,” Warren said. “It had three pellets lodged in it. At least two more went completely through — one through the wing and one through the chest.”
The Raptor Center routinely takes in injured birds found in Idaho, Warren said.
Within the last couple of years, an osprey that was shot in Driggs had to be put down by center staff. The raptor center also raised four ferruginous hawk chicks that were orphaned because their parents were shot in Idaho.
“We see far more birds come from Idaho, and I don’t have a good explanation for it,” said Jason Jones, the raptor center’s program director.
Raptors shot illegally aren’t unusual for the region, Jones said.
“I think overall it’s the sixth or seventh most common cause of admission,” he said. “It’s safe to say it’s not uncommon, unfortunately. We only see the birds that survive being shot that somebody finds.”
Jones said, in his experience, there are a few different reasons people shoot eagles, hawks and falcons.
“I think a lot of it is bored teenagers,” he said. “Upland game hunters think they may be doing a service to partridge, or grouse, or ducks, or whatever it may be.”
Because golden eagles sometimes kill lambs and goat kids, they might also be seen as a threat to livestock producers, Jones said. But rough-leggeds, the most common hawk in wintertime Jackson Hole, is not a species that poses a threat to any game animals, he said.
“They have small claws and they’re only equipped to take rodents,” Jones said. “They’re good birds to have around.”
Klucken, the Idaho warden, said there were no leads in the hawk shootings.
“They’re a protected species,” Klucken said. “It depends on the judge, but it’s a misdemeanor [to shoot a hawk] — up to 6 months in jail and $1000 in fines.”
Idaho’s Citizens Against Poaching hotline is 1-800-632-5999.