BROOMFIELD, Colo. –- Colorado Wildlife officials are asking the public to stop shooting eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures and owls.
In the spring, Birds of Prey Foundation, which is a bird hospital and rehabilitation facility in Broomfield, began keeping track of how many of their patients have been shot. Through five months, 11 birds have come in with pellets, BBs or bird shot lodged in their bodies.
“We’ve always gotten shot birds but not so many in such a small amount of time,” Desirae Kovacich, ICU Manager at Birds of Prey Foundation told FOX31.
She said while they did not keep statistics until recently, the number of shot birds has “definitely increased” compared to previous years. According to Kovacich, the rehab center would only see five to ten shot birds a year.
The increase in shot birds has caused the center to change is policy regarding incoming patients. Now, almost every bird is given an x-ray to determine if there are pellets in its body, which increases the cost of care.
Pellets and BBs can cause bone fractures in the birds, which can’t always be repaired.
“We do lose a lot of them,” Kovacich said. “The birds have to be able to fly, hunt, all those kinds of things so if they’re not able to do those things then we can’t release them and it’s a sad outcome.”
She says the injuries weigh heavily on the rehabilitation team that cares for the animals.
“The more that come through, the harder it is for all of us. It’s very frustrating and it pulls at your heartstrings to see birds that [have] a completely preventable injury,” she said.
According to Kovacich, the injured birds are coming in from all over the metro area. She says shooters don’t seem to be targeting any specific kind of bird.
Shooting, killing or hunting birds of prey is illegal in Colorado. If caught, a person can face a fine or jail time for the crime.