State and local police are investigating the possible shooting of a hawk that was found bleeding from the wing in a west Medford yard Tuesday afternoon.
Neighbors on Cherry Street reported hearing shots fired in the area in the early evening. Residents then saw a hawk struggling in a tall cedar tree in the 600 block of Cherry Street.
The hawk fell from the tree and landed in a yard. It was bleeding from one wing, but was alive when police arrived.
Pam Pierce lives in the area and saw the hawk struggling for its life after the apparent shooting.
"I saw it clinging to a branch and then suddenly it just fell," she said. "I feel so bad for that hawk."
Medford police officers canvassed the neighborhood looking for anyone who saw something suspicious.
Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said some neighbors reported seeing two young men with a rifle of some kind in the area. Others said they heard shots that sounded larger than a pellet gun, Budreau said.
"I am just going to assume someone shot the bird, because why would it just be sitting on the ground like that?" Budreau said.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife assistant district biologist Daniel Ethridge was called to the neighborhood to inspect the hawk. He donned thick leather gloves for protection before loading the bird into a cage.
The hawk will be examined by wildlife and police officers. The prospects don't look good for the bird, however.
"It's injured in a bad spot near the top of the wing," Ethridge said. "It's in a spot that may not be salvageable."
If the hawk's wing can be repaired, the bird will be released into the wild. If not, ODFW will look into giving the bird to a wildlife sanctuary, but those places sometimes have little room for new animals.
"Unfortunately, we have a lot of this kind of activity in our state," Ethridge said. "We will call these places, but if they don't have room, the bird will have to be dispatched."
Budreau said the culprits will be prosecuted for shooting a protected bird and for firing a gun in city limits.
"There is simply no reason for firing a gun in town like this," Budreau said. "Unless you feel threatened you can't fire a weapon at an animal. And if this bird was high up in that tree, it wasn't threatening anyone."
Most birds in Oregon have some form of protection by state or federal laws from indiscriminate shooting, except starlings, rock doves and house sparrows. Everything else is either off-limits to shooting or is regulated by state hunting seasons.
These rules are outlined in the Oregon Game Bird Regulations booklets available at most sporting-goods stores.
It is illegal to fire a gun in city limits.
Ethridge sided with Budreau in speculating that the bird was shot.
"These don't fall for no reason," Ethridge said.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.