A red-tailed hawk in the Twin Cities that lived for days with an arrow lodged in one of its legs has died despite the best efforts to save its life, according to those who cared for the bird.
The executive director of the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota said Sunday that it’s most likely that the young hawk was intentionally shot, which is illegal.
“It appears based on the path of the arrow through the body that the bird was likely perched and shot from below,” said the center’s Julia Ponder. She said the center is unaware of anyone who has been held responsible for the hawk’s death.
The center said the damage to the hawk’s right knee could not be repaired, meaning it would never be able to hunt for itself if released and would be left with considerable lifelong pain and suffering if kept in captivity.
“While it is not the ideal ending we had hoped for,” the center said in a statement last week, “we can take solace in the fact that we prevented a seriously wounded hawk from a longer and more painful death.”
The center first learned of the wounded hawk on Nov. 30 when someone who saw the bird with the arrow lodged in its leg called. Despite the arrow, the hawk was able to keep flying.
“It was first sighted in the Brooklyn Center area, near the Mississippi [River], Lyndale Avenue and 53rd Avenue,” Ponder said. “We sent people to look and were unable to [spot] it for several days.”
She said it reappeared near the East Bank campus of the U, and two center staff members captured it Wednesday. After efforts to save it at the clinic in St. Paul failed, it was euthanized.
The shooting of raptors with “projectiles — pellet guns, BB guns, firearms, etc. — are more common than we would like,” Ponder said. It’s fairly rare for them to be wounded by arrows, however, she added.
Ponder said it was illegal to shoot the hawk, whether with a bow or a firearm and regardless of the time of year.
Red-tailed hawks, eagles and other migratory birds are protected under federal wildlife laws, including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These laws prohibit the possession, use and sale of the feathers or other parts of federally protected birds, as well as their unauthorized killing.
The red-tailed hawk’s geographic range is extensive, spanning from Panama and parts of the Caribbean north to Alaska.