Hawk Harassers? Turn Them In

If you see someone shooting a hawk, contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They do take action. Heck, if you see someone harassing a native bird, they are there to stop the problem and often do pursue criminal charges. Here’s some bits from their 2003 Annual Report:

Safeguarding Protected Species Special agents investigate cases involving the unlawful take of federally protected wildlife
as endangered and threatened species, migratory birds, eagles, and marine mammals.


Migratory Birds and Eagles

• A Norwegian shipping company pleaded guilty in connection with an oil spill off the coast of South Carolina that killed more than 180 protected migratory birds. Penalties included a criminal fine of \$200,000 and the payment of \$300,000 in restitution for use in supporting wildlife and habitat conservation projects in the Carolinas.
• A North Carolina man who cut down a tree containing a bald eagle nest and two immature, flightless eagles was ordered to pay \$90,000 in restitution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and \$1,000 to the Eastern Carolina Raptor Rehabilitation Center. He was also fined \$5,000 and sentenced to serve six months home confinement and two years probation.
• Service agents brought charges against five Minnesota men involved in a pheasant rearing organization who killed 91 owls and five hawks using pole traps. Penalties assessed included \$5,000 in fines and \$17,000 in restitution.
• The Service teamed with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to investigate an individual who poisoned more than 217 horned larks and snow buntings. Under a plea agreement, the defendant must pay \$7,500 in civil penalties and \$10,000 in restitution.
• Four ranchers in Nebraska who used lamb and coyote carcasses treated with an agricultural pesticide to kill at least 12 bald eagles will pay a total of \$4,000 in fines and \$20,000 in restitution. 7
• Wildlife poisoning investigations in the Southeast saw a Kentucky farmer pay more than \$11,000 in fines and restitution for killing 40 federally protected birds. A Tennessee man was sent to prison for seven months in another bird poisoning case.
• Service and State officers in Utah recovered nearly 1,000 dead birds near a feedlot and successfully linked the bird die-off to the owner of that facility. The latter eventually admitted using an agricultural insecticide to kill blackbirds.
• Service intervention prevented a construction company in Honolulu, Hawaii, from destroying a nesting colony of white terns. The company is now coordinating construction work with the birds’ breeding cycle.

The maximum criminal penalty for an individual violating the Act is a \$5000 fine and a six-month jail term for each count (18 U.S.C.571; 16 U.S.C. 707). In the case of United States v. Corbin Farm Services, 444 F. Supp. 510, (E.D. California 1978) the defendants were charged with killing ten American Wigeon (Anas americana) by aerial application of a pesticide. The defendants claimed their actions were not a violation of the Act because poisoning is not expressly forbidden and because they had no intent to kill the birds. The court, however, decided that negligence, not intent, was the key element of the case, and the defendants were fined. The Corbin decision upheld a statute imposing criminal liability for acts without intent to violate where the violator is in a position to prevent the harm and penalties are minor (Cogging and Patti 1979).

The Court in United States v. Schultze (28 F. Supp. 234) determined that “it was not the intention of Congress to require guilty knowledge or intent to complete the commission of the offense, and that accordingly scienter [knowledge] is not necessary.” The Court in United States versus Schultze found the defendant guilty “even though there was no evidence of any guilty knowledge or intent upon his part at the time of the commission of the offense.”

Coggins and Patti (1979) summarized the issue by suggesting that for a criminal violation of the Act, the deed: (1) must be purposeful; (2) it must involve some potentially lethal agent; (3) there must be some degree of culpability in the action; and (4) the consequences for bird mortality must be generally foreseeable. The violation may also involve causing direct physical injury to the bird even if the bird is not killed.

Using the criteria spelled out by Coggins and Patti (1979), it is apparent that the following types of actions would not be considered a violation of the Act: (1) walking down a trail through a forest and causing birds to flush from a tree branch; (2) “pishing” to arouse the attention of birds and draw them closer for observation; (3) stepping from a car or other hiding place and inadvertently causing a flock of birds to flush; and (4) driving a vehicle past a flock of resting birds and causing them to take flight. The best rule of thumb is to use common sense. If you are in doubt about the outcome of your intended action, do not proceed with your plan! In the long run, not only is the image of birders tarnished, but the species for which the law was enacted to protect are further harmed.


And here is the contact information for US F&WS law enforcement regional offices. Pick the one nearest you.

Pacific Region (1): California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the Pacific Trust Territories

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
911 N. E. 11th Avenue
Portland, Oregon, USA 97232-4171
Phone:(503)231-6125 Fax:(503)231-6197

Southwest Region (2): Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
P.O. Box 329
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA 87103
Phone(505)248-7889 Fax:(505)248-7899

Great Lakes – Big Rivers Region (3): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
One Federal Drive
Fort Snelling, Minnesota, USA 55111-0045
Phone:(612)713-5320 Fax:(612)713-5283

Southeast Region (4): Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
P.O. Box 49226
Atlanta, Georgia, USA 30359
Phone:404)679-7057 Fax:(404)679-7065

Northeast Region (5): Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia,

U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
300 Westgate Center Drive
Hadley, Massachusetts, USA 01035
Phone:(413)253-8274 Fax:(413)253-8459

Mountain-Prairie Region (6): Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
P.O. Box 25486 – DFC
Denver, Colorado, USA 80225
Phone:(303)236-7540 Fax:(303)236-7901

Alaska Region (7): Alaska

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
1011 E. Tudor Road, Mail Stop 151
Anchorage, Alaska, USA 99503-6199
Phone:(907)786-3311 Fax:(907)786-3313

Office of Law Enforcement- National Headquarters

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
4401 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, Virginia, USA 22203
Phone:(703)358-1949 Fax:(703)358-2271

14 thoughts on “Hawk Harassers? Turn Them In

  • 2008/12/12 at 7:07 pm

    I think it would be a bad day for whoever i saw terrorizing a hawk or any other bird. Thanks for the info!

  • 2009/01/07 at 6:23 pm

    So stats show that native bird numbers are at an all time low (for my area) while there is a ridiculous abundance of hawks. Pretty easy to figure this out. I guess if we protect the hawk at least we won’t have anymore birds or small animals to deal with. Great law we got here.

  • 2009/01/07 at 8:25 pm

    Predator-prey relationships are dynamic, and peaks in predator numbers may coincide with lows in prey numbers. The situation won’t last. Also, raptors are native birds.

  • 2009/01/08 at 2:49 pm

    I agree with native birds, they are and I’m not gonna go shootin all of them. The whitetail deer needs to have population control to keep crops and vehical accidents in control. A short season on hawks seems like a good idea to control their numbers and bring in cash revenue. Crows are migratory and are birds of prey. Just some food for thought.

  • 2009/01/11 at 2:24 pm

    Timmy, apparently you must know something that most people don’t. I’m glad you told me that a crow was a bird of prey. Hmm, I guess you learn something new everyday.

    You really should have knowledge on a subject before you post something, it keeps you from looking dumb.

  • 2009/01/13 at 1:34 pm

    Ever seen a crow catch a mouse, even a grasshopper? Wiki list them as a bird of prey, good enough for me, whether they are classified that way or not they are a predator from what I’ve seen. There are a thousand crows on our farm, I know their eating habits pretty well. Maybe we just have the badass crows that no one else has?

  • 2009/10/20 at 8:34 pm

    Wiki? WIKIPEDIA?


    Dude. Shut up. Corvidae (crow family) are NOT raptors, them’s passerines (perching birds). Raptors are defined by what they are, not what they eat.

    Wiki…*headdesk* Wes, why do you let stupid people comment on your blog?

  • 2009/10/20 at 9:50 pm

    Wes, why do you let stupid people comment on your blog?

    When it comes to the hawk-shooting component of the population, that is the vast preponderance of the group. It helps to let everyone else see that directly.

  • 2010/02/25 at 5:25 pm

    Here we have a situation that needs a solution.

    There is a man in my small neighborhood, a rural area, who has free-range chickens, and for Years has been shooting and killing hawks, owls, and any other wildlife he sees fit to do, over these chickens, which are not that many chickens. He does not have a large lot, not a large production, it is simply personal use.

    I already understand that prevention is the first step to take when trying to prevent loss of livestock such as chickens. I know, too, there are many non-lethal ways of dealing with the problem.

    As a result, we now have an infestation of rats in this entire neighborhood. The monetary and physical damage to homes and health caused by them is astronomical compared to the loss of some eggs and a few inexpensive chickens.

    I want to try to help him, but he is of the sort that listens to no one, and has never even looked me in the eye, even if spoken to directly. I had planned last night, to go speak to him calmly about the issue, as no one else will, but today I am feeling fear in doing so, as I might well end up with a gun in my face. In such a situation, I am sure that I could still remain relatively calm.

    I simply can’t just stand by and let this killing of our wildlife here continue. Others are unhappy about these actions, but it appears that no one else has the will nor the fortitude to do anything about it. What should I do?


  • 2011/09/09 at 10:21 am

    As a former falconer it is a beautiful thing to watch your redtail or Harris catch a bunny and start eating it alive. The screaming of the bunny is a beautiful sound. Of course this only happens when they get a poor grab. You then have to step in quickly and break the rabbit’s neck.
    What world are you guys from? Poor Hawks?

    This protection of any and all raptors at all times is a poor policy.
    Here is something for you to think about: Southern Cal was mostly open grassland in the not too distant past. Oak trees, sycamores tend to be restricted to the canyons or areas where there is available water. So where did the Mighty Cooper hawk nest? How many were there? I bring this up to say that it’s my opinion that we have a lot more now because of the home building and landscaping that came with it. This does a couple of things. More trees for nesting along with observation posts and cover for the hawks. They tend to be ambush predators. The landscaping also provided habitat for other birds; hence more food for the hawks. The Cooper population increased.
    The Cooper is by no means endangered, especially if you believe the Fish and Game numbers of those killed in only a couple years in only a few locations. For that many to be killed in that short of time in just a few locations would tell me there is a serious overpopulation of Cooper hawks. Another thing to note is that the people who are afflicted with predation are mostly concerned with the overabundant Cooper, not the kestrels, redtail, peregrine. The Cooper should have a season to decrease their overpopulation. I do not say this lightly to kill animals. I’m forgiving up to a point. I.e., a bobcat killed 33 out of 35 pigeons in one night..quite a sight to wake up to. Killing for fun is what he was up to. I set trap for next night and caught him and relocated the bugger. Now if I thought they were as numerous as coopers, I might not have been so forgiving.

  • 2011/09/14 at 9:28 pm

    Howard, I don’t think that your seat of the pants wildlife management is something I can get behind. I don’t for a minute believe the “former falconer” thing, either. Current troll, yeah, that I can see.

  • 2011/12/08 at 5:00 pm

    Obviously the 99% of you live in the city and have no idea about the reality of life in the outdoors, and living amongst it, except for your occasional outdoor camping or hiking experience.

    You do what you have to to protect what is yours.

    Enough said!

  • 2011/12/08 at 8:22 pm

    I live in a rural area. Your convenience does not equate to a license to kill. If I find any of my neighbors placing leg-hold traps or using hawks for target practice, one “reality of life” is gonna be me turning them in. If that includes you, I’ll be especially motivated to testify at your trial and sentencing hearing.

    I consider the continued health of the local raptors to be, in part, mine, and as you so aptly put it, I’ll do what I have to to protect it.

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