The deaths of two protected birds in the middle of Albuquerque has wildlife officials investigating. It’s also got a local bird conservation group figuring out how it can put an end to a recurring crime.
Cooper’s Hawks are loud and fast.
“They have long tails to help them fly through dense forest and they have relatively short wings,” says Gail Garber.
Cooper’s Hawks have made a name for themselves here in the Duke City and they happen to be a protected species.
“In the Albuquerque area, they have really benefited from all the people who feed birds in their backyards because we’ve created an all you can eat cafeteria,” says Garber.
Garber, Executive Director of non-profit ‘Hawks Aloft,’ says their aggression during nesting season in the warmer months may be why some people see the birds as a nuisance.
“She’s going to come screaming off that nest. She’s going to dive bomb you and scare you. I know we get calls from people who are terrified,” she says.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish say two Cooper’s Hawks were shot and killed near Nob Hill over the last few weeks. Wildlife officials don’t know why the birds were shot or who pulled the trigger.
“It’s really distressing that it seems like nothing can be done to catch the people who do the shooting because it just goes on and on and on,” says Garber.
Garber helps rehabilitate injured birds at ‘Hawks Aloft.’ In the last year, she says she’s seen more injured Cooper’s Hawks than she’d like.
“We’ve had six Cooper’s Hawks that have been shot in the Albuquerque area,” she says.
While she can understand the frustration, she says it’s no excuse to fire at them.
“This bird has never done anything to hurt humans. I mean they are a part of the ecosystem,” she says.
Since Cooper’s Hawks are a protected species, if you get caught harming one it can lead to fines or even time behind bars. The NM Department of Game and Fish says their investigation is ongoing and there are no leads at this point.