Protected Osprey shot, killed in Carlsbad

New Mexico

CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – Federal authorities are looking for the person who shot an osprey bird in southeast New Mexico. The bird, which at one point was listed as an endangered species, was a regular visitor to one Carlsbad neighborhood. Neighbors are horrified that anybody would kill it.

“I was here on my patio grilling some steaks and I heard a sound that sounded more like a collision than a gunshot,” said Sara Ballard who saw the bird.

Ballard describes what she heard on September 10 when she looked up to see an Osprey crashing to the ground. Ballard says that Osprey has been coming to her neighborhood for years every fall. The bird fell into the middle of Canal Street in Carlsbad.

“We had a lot of fun taking pictures, watching her flight patterns. There where times we would watch her through binoculars after leaving her perch and coming back with fish,” Ballard said.

She and another neighbor quickly ran out into the street, saw the bird had been shot, and wrapped it in a blanket. They rushed the bird to the Desert Willow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center where they attempted to save its life.

“The injury he sustained from the bullet was minor but we believe there where some other internal injuries and, unfortunately, a few days after he did come into the clinic, he did pass away on his own,” said Dr. Samantha Uhrig, executive director of Desert Willow Rehab Center.

An Osprey is not native to New Mexico; they are part of the hawk family. You can see Ospreys in New Mexico from March to May as they make their way to breeding grounds further north. The birds pass through again in the fall, as early as mid-August, and as late as December as they fly back home.

Federal wildlife officials are investigating who might have shot the Osprey. “We just don’t see these guys commonly, they’re a really unique species for a raptor. They’re the only fish-eating bird that we have that specifically hunts fish,” said Dr. Uhrig.

Ballard and her neighbors did not see anybody actually fire the shot. If the shooter is caught they can face up to six months in jail and a $15,000 fine. While the Osprey is no longer endangered it is still a migratory bird so it’s a federal crime to kill it.

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