BONNERS FERRY — The female rough-legged hawk had traveled hundreds of miles south, spending several weeks, to escape the harsh arctic winter. She would have wintered here in Boundary County, feeding on mice and meadow voles.
The rough-legged hawk has smaller feet compared to other hawks, so they stick to the smaller prey items, making them a beneficial visitor, from November to March.
The temporary visitor to our county had her time cut short when she was illegally shot.
“A Bonners Ferry resident who had attended one of our live bird of prey lectures, discovered the hawk and knew what to do,” said Birds of Prey NW Raptor Biologist Janie Veltkamp.
On Dec. 16, the gentleman who found the injured hawk was able to capture her safely and then got her to a Sandpoint volunteer.
“We transported it for an X-ray, only to discover the beautiful bird had been shot — destroying her elbow joint,” said Veltkamp. “The fragments of steel shot are evident upon X-ray.”
All hawks and owls are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and strictly prohibit the capture, killing, or possession of hawks or owls without special permit.
“Stiff penalties and jail time apply to those apprehended,” said Veltkamp. “Poachers, those who shoot hawks do so needlessly, as this species preys on lots of vermin and mice.”
Despite the best efforts put forth, the female rough-legged hawk had to be euthanized due to the extent of her injury.
“Such a travesty,” said Veltkamp.
Any information on the illegal act of shooting birds of prey, should be reported to the Idaho Fish and Game Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) at 800-632-5999.
More information on the conservation of birds of prey can be obtained at Birds of Prey NW’s website: www.birdsofpreynorthwwest.org. For information on a live bird of prey educational program, call 208 245 1367. These unique educational programs are provided by the nonprofit.
For help with an injured bird of prey call 208-582-0797.