Hawk With Nail In Head Still Free In San Francisco

By Salon Staff
Published October 20, 2011 2:59PM (EDT)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A wildlife rescue group tried unsuccessfully for a third day Wednesday to capture and rescue a red-tailed hawk in a San Francisco park that appears to have been shot in the head with a nail gun.

A rescuer spotted the bird during the afternoon in one of its usual haunts in Golden Gate Park's southwest corner, where it had captured and was eating a gopher.

"We know he's gotten some nourishment, which is good because we know he's in a weakened state," said Rebecca Dmytryk, executive director of the Monterey-based group WildRescue.

At the same time, rescuers will have a harder time luring the hawk into their traps if it's been eating, she said. "We need him hungry."

After Wednesday's effort, Dmytryk said searchers won't be looking for the hawk Thursday but will instead be on call.

"We'll be relying on the many contacts we've made in the area," she said.

If the hawk is not spotted and found Thursday, the search is expected to resume Friday.

Dmytryk's group is using a trap called a bal-chatri, a trap made of wire mesh, to try to catch the injured hawk.

She noted that wild birds, like hawks are protected, and that it's a felony to try to capture the birds without a license.

Observers patrolling an area frequented by the hawk between a ball field and a lake got close enough to the bird to see the nail extending from its cheek through the front of its head. They said the hawk appeared to be in pain.

WildRescue was notified of the injured bird Sunday night.

It started scouring the park the following day, looking for signs of the hawk and setting traps. Rescuers are using traps rather than nets to capture the bird because they fear the nail could get caught on a net and further injure it.

"It's very time-consuming trying to find it," Dmytryk said. The bird was likely born in the park to parents who still live in the area, she said.

Rescuers believe someone intentionally hurt the hawk, saying a nail gun can be fired accurately at a distance of several yards.

A donor pledged an additional $5,000 to WildRescue's reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever harmed the bird, bringing the total reward to $10,000.

Red-tailed hawks are protected under federal law and harming one is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $15,000 fine, according to Elise Traub, outreach and policy manager for the Humane Society of the United States' Wildlife Abuse Campaign.

Traub spoke to the San Francisco Examiner (http://bit.ly/oZ0XHH ).

Sightings of the hawk can be reported to WildRescue at 831-429-2323 or rescue(at)wildrescue.org.

Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------