Hawk Suffers Puncture Wounds to His Stomach and One Paw When He Is Abducted by a Raptor Hired to Patrol a City Dump on Vancouver Island
"The hawk pounced. (The kitten) was very fortunate."
-- Denise Malsbury of PK Bird Control Services
Not many cats survive being attacked by a redtailed hawk but a tiny black kitten ironically named Hawk is one of a select few who can make that claim. Back on August 8th he was snatched off the ground by one of these voracious predators at a landfill in the town of Cedar on Vancouver Island.
For whatever reason, the hawk lost its grip on him and the kitten tumbled back to terra firma. Although he amazingly weathered his descent without any apparent injuries, the hawk's razor-sharp talons pierced holes in both his stomach and one paw.
"The hawk pounced," Denise Malsbury of PK Bird Control Services, which uses hawks and falcons to chase away gulls and other so-called pests from the dump, told the Nanaimo Daily News on August 12th. (See "Kitten Was Snatched and Then Dropped in Cedar Landfill by Hawk.") "(The kitten) was very fortunate."
Hawk's second stroke of good luck occurred when he was discovered by an unidentified employee of PK who rushed him to Island Veterinary Hospital in Nanaimo, eight kilometers to the north. He underwent successful emergency surgery there and afterwards was transferred to the Nanaimo SPCA in order to begin his recuperation.
Once that was successfully completed, his third stroke of good luck occurred later in the fall when he was adopted. (See photo of him above.)
Two other kittens also snatched by hawks at the landfill were not nearly so fortunate. One of them died of a pierced skull while the other one succumbed to a neck injury.
The mother cat, who also sustained unspecified injuries, was imprisoned at the city pound and it is not known if she ever made it out alive. Since the landfill routinely is used by irresponsible individuals as a convenient dumping ground for unwanted cats and dogs, it is likely, although by no means certain, that Hawk was a member of that unfortunate family.
The unprovoked attack upon Hawk was far from being an isolated incident. For example, a poodle named Miracle May was snatched by a bird of prey along British Columbia's nearby Sunshine Coast in May of last year. The dog, which suffered ten deep puncture wounds as well as mangled claws, landed in a kitchen but miraculously survived.
Raptors are becoming increasingly popular as a means of controlling certain species that wildlife biologists, capitalists, and governmental officials have come to detest for one reason or another. In addition to gulls, they are being used against such unpopular avian species as crows, pigeons, starlings, ravens, and black birds. They additionally are employed against such perennially maligned mammalian species as rabbits, foxes, Feldmause, and rats.
PK Bird, for example, maintains a deadly force of trained Harris Hawks, Saker Falcons, Peregrines, and Nathan Goshawks in addition to redtailed hawks. It is sans doute a hugely lucrative enterprise in that PK Bird's list of potential clients is almost unlimited. For instance, in addition to landfills, its birds are used at saw mills, hospitals, conservation areas, vineyards, shopping centers, and inside municipalities.
Although there is not anything posted on its web site to suggest that the company specifically targets cats and dogs, there cannot be any denying that its birds, being indiscriminate predators, are guilty of killing many cats and injuring numerous small dogs. By extension, that makes PK Bird liable in a court of law for their deaths and injuries, whether deliberate or unintentional.
In Queens, New York, JFK Airport elected in April of last year to buck the trend by sacking falconer John Kellermann. Up until then he had been retained by the facility in order to use his twenty falcons and one redtailed hawk in order to scare off gulls, ducks, and other birds. (See CBC's As It Happens, April 29, 2011, "JFK Falcons Fired" and the Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2011, " Falcons at New York's JFK Airport Join the Flock of the Unemployed.")
JFK instead has turned to the USDA's notorious and secretive band of assassins known as Wildlife Services in order to do its dirty work for it with shotguns. There cannot be any doubt that the agency has the expertise in order to do the job since it has been busy liquidating up to twenty-five-thousand Canada geese at New York-area airports in the wake of Chesley Sullenberger having ditched US Airlines flight 1549 in the Hudson River after he idiotically flew into a flock of them upon takeoff from Laguardia in January of 2009.
Long before it added geese to its hit list, Wildlife Services was systematically shooting, poisoning, and trapping millions of animals, including cats, each year at the behest of farmers, ranchers, municipalities, and others. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")
As far as its treatment of animals are concerned, it would not be incorrect to label the national government as fascist to the core. If he were still alive today Upton Sinclair probably would concur in that he defined fascism as "capitalism plus murder" in his 1944 novel, The Presidential Agent.
In addition to hawks, diamondback terrapins often find themselves in harm's way at the airport although so far the facility and airlines that use it have, generally speaking, taken a much more tolerant attitude toward them. That, however, is not out of any genuine respect for either them or their rights.
"Running over turtles is not healthy for them, nor is it good for our tires," a spokesperson for JetBlue Airways told the New York Daily News on June 30th after several of the reptiles caused flight delays while journeying to their seasonal breeding grounds. (See "Turtles Get Busy Causin' One Shell of a Delay at JFK Airport.")
Wildlife Services' killing spree at JFK is especially hypocritical in that it was precisely the feds who approved the building of the airport alongside a wildlife reserve. The birds, ducks, turtles, and other animals of the area were there first and therefore have a legitimate right not only to continue to live there but to occupy the airport as well. If the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the facility, cannot find a humane way to live in peace with them the facility should be immediately closed.
Besides its abhorrent antipathy toward wildlife, JFK also hates cats and just to underscore the point it ordered its resident felines to be eradicated back in 2007. (See Cat Defender post of November 5, 2007 entitled "Port Authority Gives JFK's Long-Term Resident Felines the Boot and Rescue Groups Are Too Impotent to Save Them.")
It is not necessary to sing any sad songs for Kellermann, however, in that his falcons likely will be able to secure gainful employment protecting crops, such as New Jersey's lucrative blueberries, and vineyards.
Besides being employed against so-called pest species, wildlife biologists are championing the presence of raptors in urban areas just as they have done so in the past with coyotes, fishers, and other animals that they and others have deliberately driven out of their rural habitats. Municipal officials in cities like New York also have welcomed hawks and other birds of prey regardless of the threat that their presence poses to cats, dogs, humans, and even the birds themselves.
For instance, in July of last year a fifteen-pound white cat named Eddie was snatched off the terrace of his fifth floor apartment on Manhattan's West Side by a redtailed hawk. Presumably because of his obesity, the hawk dropped him fifty feet away.
Luckily for him, his fall was broken by an outdoor umbrella and he escaped with minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. (See Cat Defender post of August 1, 2011 entitled "Eddie Is Saved by an Outdoor Umbrella after He Is Abducted from the Balcony of His Manhattan Apartment and Then Dropped by a Redtailed Hawk.")
As the abduction of Miracle May demonstrated, even small dogs are not exempt from these kinds of attacks. For example, a Chihuahua was attacked by a hawk in Bryant Park, behind the central library, in 2003.
Hawks even have been known to gain access to the interiors of buildings. For instance, forty-six-year-old bond trader Joe Moderski received an unwelcome surprise when he returned to his fifth floor walkup at 103 West 80th Street on August 21st following a holiday at the Jersey Shore. "I had noticed that the hallway was filled with feathers, and I thought maybe someone had moved out or I had missed out on a great pillow fight," he related to the New York Post in a lighthearted vein on August 22nd. (See "West Side Feather Ruffler.")
When a redtailed hawk suddenly materialized from seemingly out of nowhere and swooped down on him barely missing by inches digging its talons into his mug Moderski's mirth quickly evaporated and he found himself singing an entirely different tune. "I freaked out. Its claws were huge," he added to the Post. "I turned around and ran."
The boys from what Frank Sinatra's radio persona Rocky Fortune used to disparagingly refer to as the Irish Clubhouse were called in and they tried unsuccessfully for a half-hour to coax the hawk outside with bread crumbs. They eventually threw in the towel and handed off the ball to their colleagues in the Emergency Service Unit who eventually were able to corral the bird.
It then was handed over to the city's notorious killing factory, Animal Care and Control, and that was the last ever heard of it. Hopefully, it later was released back into a safe environment and is still alive.
No explanation ever was offered as to how it gained entrée to the building in the first place. (See photo of it above.)
A five-year-old redtailed hawk named Violet who had resided on the ledge of the twelfth floor at New York University's (NYU) Bobst Library for at least a year was not nearly so fortunate. On December 29th she died from an apparent heart attack following emergency surgery at a veterinary hospital in North Massapequa on Long Island to amputate her right foot. (See photo of her directly below shortly before her death.)
She had injured her leg several months previously but due to opposition from veterinarians, wildlife biologists, and NYU, she callously was allowed to suffer as her condition steadily worsened. Finally, Robert Horvath and his associates at Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (WINORR) in Massapequa took matters into their own hands by capturing her in Washington Square Park on Christmas Eve.
"She came through the surgery well. She woke up and was sitting up fluffing her feathers," Horvath told The New York Times on December 29th. (See "Violet the Redtailed Hawk Is Dead.") "All of a sudden she had a heart attack. The vet did CPR on her for twenty minutes but to no avail."
In addition to her useless right foot, the attending veterinarian discovered that her left femur also was broken. A necropsy was ordered but, as far as it could be determined, the results so far have not been made public.
It therefore is mere speculation as to what killed her. Normally, surgery of that kind would not be fatal to a healthy hawk but Violet was anything but in the best of health.
Specifically, her infected foot easily could have poisoned her system. It additionally is possible that she could have been suffering from some other malady that the attending veterinarian failed to detect beforehand.
Veterinary error also is a distinct possibility. Specifically, either the anesthesia or the drugs administered to her could have been too powerful for her weakened heart. It accordingly might have been wiser for the veterinarian to have cleaned and dressed her injuries, performed a series of diagnostic tests in order to have determined her overall health and, if necessary, put her on a rehabilitation regimen prior to operating on her.
Furthermore, there cannot be any disputing that Horvath's capture of her caused her tremendous stress and trauma. That is one reason why wild animals never should be either deprived of their freedom or restrained in any manner except in dire emergencies.
Above and beyond those considerations, it appears in hindsight that her notoriety likely was the biggest contributor to her untimely demise. For instance, in April of last year The New York Times set up a webcam near her nest that made her famous almost overnight by attracting more than a million viewers.
Her presence also proved to be great publicity for NYU and that, at least in part, may have played some role in the school's opposition to providing Violet with the prompt and expert emergency veterinary care that she so desperately needed dating back at least as far as November. "To be two feet away and look at their talons, and their eyes, and their beaks, and their beautiful feathers, it puts you in touch with the transcendent," NYU President John Sexton, whose office is practically on top of the nest that Violet shared with her mate, Bobby, gushed to The New York Times in the article cited supra.
It is just too bad that the interest shown in Violet by Sexton and his fellow eggheads was limited to gawking and counting their shekels. If she had received competent veterinary care in a timely manner she might still be alive today.
She also was victimized by wildlife biologists' thoroughly despicable and inhumane insistence upon repeatedly hounding down all animals and fitting them with either tracking devices or electronic surveillance equipment. In Violet's case, the culprit was a metal band placed around her right leg in 2006.
Over time the band had become awkwardly wedged on her shin and, according to The Times, appeared to have exacerbated her condition. It is highly unlikely that any of those involved ever will come clean but it is conceivable that it was the metal band that, one way or another, ultimately killed her.
Regardless of its role in her death, there perhaps is not any more urgent matter in wildlife conservation than the enactment of a comprehensive ban on the tagging of all animals. (See Cat Defender posts of May 21, 2009, February 29, 2008, and May 4, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Macho B, America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists in Arizona," "The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud," and "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals.")
In spite of mortalities and injuries that must number in the thousands each year, the process of snooping on the animals in order to control them not only continues unabated but even takes precedent over saving lives. For example, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which currently is supposed to be rescuing the hundreds of dolphins stranded on Cape Cod, is not only wasting precious time by attaching GPS devices to these dying animals' dorsal fins but is robbing them of blood samples as well before returning them to the sea. (See photo below of rescuers numbering, tagging, and taking blood samples from a dying dolphin.)
At last count, the IFAW had managed to save only about forty of the more than one-hundred-sixty stricken mammals. (See Living on Earth, February 10, 2012, "Dolphin Stranding.")
The totally inexcusable behavior of IFAW vividly demonstrates once again that most individuals and groups involved in the animal protection movement are every bit as big of an obstacle to conservation as greedy capitalists and uncaring consumers. For example, no major wildlife protection group had so much as the temerity to even condemn the senseless slaughter of dozens of big cats and other animals in Zanesville last autumn. (See Cat Defender post of November 3, 2011 entitled "Sheriff Matt Lutz Settles an Old Score by Staging a Great Safari Hunt That Claims the Lives of Eighteen Tigers and Seventeen Lions in Zanesville.")
Just about everyone of them have agendas that are adverse to the needs and desires of animals. This is demonstrated not only by their misplaced priorities but also the meager results that they produce in spite of the large amounts of funding, both public and private, that they annually receive.
Recently on February 12th, two common dolphins were found dead at separate locations in Cape May County in southern New Jersey. Concerned about the deadly consequences of human intervention, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine often refuses to trap dolphins in nets because the stress brought on by such a procedure sometimes causes the animals to have heart attacks and that no doubt is a valid concern when trapping redtailed hawks and other animals as well.
The Stranding Center also conceals the location of stricken marine mammals because even gawkers and sightseers can unwittingly add to the animals' stress and discomfort. (See The Press of Atlantic City, February 13, 2012, "Dead Dolphins Found in Ocean City, Lower Township.")
For a vivid account of the horrors and sheer barbarism that electronic snooping entails there is perhaps no better place to look than at the various videos posted online of wildlife biologists and others gunning down wolves from airplanes. The doomed animals bravely attempt to flee but little are they aware that the radio collars fastened around their necks make any escape impossible. To treat animals in such a fashion is nothing short of sickening and revolting at the same time.
Last year, the Obama Administration delivered up the gray wolves of the Northern Rockies to hunters on a silver platter and on January 27th of this year it did likewise to those who make their homes in the Great Lakes. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 27, 2012, "Western Great Lakes' Wolves Are Prey Again.")
Always willing to cozy up to those in power, Hollywood did its part by releasing on the very same date the scurrilous, anti-wolf propaganda film, The Grey. Maggie Howell of the Wolf Conservation Center in Westchester County, north of Gotham, tried to set the record straight but she is not any match for the well-heeled liars from Tinseltown.
"Wolves don't hunt humans; they actually shy away from them," she told the New York Post on January 24th. (See "Movie's Critics Howling.") "It's not anything new for wolves to be portrayed as the bad guy (sic) in fairy tales, and we don't take it seriously because it's fantasy, but this movie is supposed to be real."
On March 30, 2006 a coyote named Hal, who earlier had wandered into Central Park, was suffocated to death by wildlife biologists Mike Putnam and Dan Bogan while they were attempting to attach a surveillance device to one of his ears. (See Cat Defender post of April 17, 2006 entitled "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him.")
It might be recalled that before his death Hal had spent a week undergoing rehabilitation at WINORR before Horvath foolishly handed him over to Putnam and Bogan to be killed. It is conceivable that in both his and Violet's case matters were beyond Horvath's control but it nonetheless does not reflect positively on his efforts that both animals died when they could have been saved.
The twin objectives of anyone who seriously cares about animals is to save their lives and to preserve their freedom. Everything else, especially tagging, is a grotesque fraud.
Violet was buried in Washington Square Park where she and Bobby used to hunt from the tall trees. Bobby has moved on and now has a new mate. It is unknown what has become of his and Violet's son, Pip.
In the end, Sexton and NYU made out all right in that they still have redtailed hawks in residence. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that anyone on campus shed so much as a tear over Violet's passing.
The so-called educated men and women of academia are, after all, every bit as greedy and callous as Wall Street crooks. (See New York Post articles of October 12, 2011 and October 14, 2011 entitled, respectively, "First Degree Burn$. New York Colleges Priciest" and "Very Well Endowed. Columbia Snags Twenty-Four Per Cent Return.")
Overall, a good case could be made that the use and abuse of raptors, such as redtailed hawks, is neither beneficial for other animals nor the birds themselves. Since all animals have a right to live, wildlife biologists, capitalists, politicians, and others do not have any business designating some of them as pests for the purpose of exterminating them. Left to their own devices, raptors will kill enough of these species; no human intervention is either needed or warranted.
There also is something preeminently unsavory about corrupting these birds into doing the dirty work of capitalists and politicians. In doing so, private exterminators have reduced them to the level of the psychopathic mass murderers who comprise the ranks of Wildlife Services and the thoroughly discredited United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Second of all, birds of prey employed by the likes of PK, Kellermann, and others are horribly subjugated and abused themselves. Often bred under abysmal circumstances, they then are confined to their cages from womb to tomb except at such times as when they are dispatched on their killing sprees. They never are granted so much as a moment of genuine freedom and it is highly probable that they are unceremoniously liquidated once they either become injured or too old to hunt.
Wildlife biologists, who should be safeguarding them and their habitats, instead are more interested in controlling and snooping on them. Institutions like NYU and The New York Times likewise only champion their cause out of purely selfish motives.
Then there is the vitally important question of the suitability of urban environments. For instance, the air, water, and noise pollution in Gotham is nothing short of horrific. Congested skies and streets pose two additional perils for raptors. On top of all of that, sanitary conditions in the city are minimal at best and, as a consequence, disease is rampant.
Above all, their addition to urban landscapes has deadly consequences for cats and small dogs. Not only are homeless kittens, such as Hawk, easy targets for them but even domestic cats, such as Eddie, are not even safe at home.
Unfortunately, the safety of cats and dogs is not a high priority in New York City or anywhere else for that matter. With individuals it is an entirely different matter and if Moderski had been seriously injured by the hawk that flew at him in his hallway there surely would have been both legal and political repercussions.
Photos: Danielle Bell of the Nanaimo Daily News (Hawk), New York Post (West Side hawk), Christie M. Farriella of the New York Daily News (Violet), and K. Branon of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (beached dolphin.)