CORRALES, N.M. (KRQE) – Killing protected birds is a federal crime. One local bird rehabilitator had to euthanize one last month after it was gunned down near the Corrales Bosque Preserve.

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Mikal Deese is currently caring for nearly 50 birds of 20 different species at her Corrales home. The wild bird rehabilitator says the Mississippi Kite is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act. Deese said Mississippi Kites are more prevalent in the southeastern United States and uncommon here. Deese had one come in last month that she had to euthanize. “It is awful,” Deese said. “It is a beautiful bird. It should be out flying.”

Mississippi Kite | Adobe Stock

That’s because someone found it near the Corrales Bosque Preserve, shot. “We can see there is shrapnel in the wounds in the x-ray,” Deese said. “It was definitely shot.”

Deese said it was likely born locally. The birds migrate to South America for the winter, and Deese believes the Mississippi Kite had been back here for a couple of months. Audubon Southwest said it was probably about to head back to South America soon. “It is an incredible journey they were about to leave on actually so this bird was about to head on its migration in the next week or two so it is doubly a shame,” Audubon Southwest Executive Director Jonathan Hayes said.

It is illegal to discharge a firearm in the Village of Corrales, and the use of guns is prohibited on the Bosque Preserve. Village officials said it is concerning someone appears to have been shooting near an area full of wildlife and people. “We want to get out to the community that we have a wonderful bosque in the Village of Corrales that we take pride in,” Corrales Fire Chief Anthony Martinez said. “We want them to educate themselves on our rules.”

Deese calls it a senseless act. “Someone stole the life of that bird and stole that bird from the rest of us,” Deese said. “The Earth doesn’t belong to humans exclusively.”

Deese reported the case to the Corrales Police Department and state and federal wildlife officials, but investigators said they are struggling with leads. Corrales Police said they are increasing patrols in the area. The state oversees much of the bosque here in Albuquerque where hunting is also illegal.