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A radiograph taken on a red-shouldered hawk that was shot shows the fracture site and the location of the BB.

Hawk shot, admitted to wildlife hospital

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

This red-shouldered hawk was among the 55 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

The red-shouldered hawk was brought to the hospital after being found injured on the ground. Although the hawk attempted to fly, it was unable get any lift or sustain flight. When the hawk was admitted, there was fresh blood on its right wing and beak but otherwise the bird was in good condition. A small round object was felt when the wing was palpated. A radiograph confirmed the hawk had been shot.

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Von Arx Wildlife Hospital Volunteer Kate Talano restrains a hawk while its bandage is removed.

The hawk’s wing was cleansed and bandaged and an antibiotic, pain medication and subcutaneous electrolytes were administered. The hawk was placed in an animal intensive care unit to rest.

The following day the hawk was alert and responsive and standing upright in the intensive care unit — all good signs. The treatment plan was adjusted to include laser therapy, a second antibiotic, an antifungal, an additional medication to address nerve pain and Chinese herbs to support the body after suffering trauma.

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Hospital staff perform laser therapy on the red-shouldered hawk.

The hawk’s condition continued to improve yet the bird had no interest in eating the diet staff offered. Supplemental feedings of a nutritionally complete liquid formula for carnivores was provided multiple times during the day. After several days the hawk finally began to on its own.

All native birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is illegal to intentionally harm a bird, its nest, eggs, etc. While there may be a legal hunting season for some species of birds, shooting the red-shouldered hawk broke both state and federal laws.

If you see someone shooting a bird please report the incident to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; law enforcement officers will investigate the situation.

A gopher tortoise, three eastern cottontails, an eastern screech owl, six raccoons, two mourning doves, five Virginia opossums, and a red-shouldered hawk were released last week.

As we head into the busy holiday season remember the wildlife hospital is open every day. If you find a sick, injured or orphaned animal please bring it to the wildlife hospital for immediate assistance.

You can also call us at 239–262-CARE and we can walk you through any situation or provide assistance if you do find an animal.

Please visit the Conservancy website at to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

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Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of and forever.

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