Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Federal authorities investigating the shooting deaths of two hawks in Niagara County (including one in Cambria) are looking for a little help from the public ... and that information could mean two rewards of up to $2,500 for those who provide it.
“This is obviously a case of poaching,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The Humane Society of the United States is actively involved in combatting poaching. It’s a criminal activity ... and we’re looking for people who will help us.”
The rewards are offered by The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, which work closely with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible for the shootings, he said. Anyone with tips should contact U.S. Fish & Wildlife Agent Lee Schneckenberger at 691-3635, ext. 202. Callers may remain anonymous.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a red-tailed hawk was found July 13 along Green Road in Cambria.
The hawk had been shot and later died while in the care of a rehabilitator. On July 18, a Coopers hawk was found shot on Ruie Road in North Tonawanda. The hawk had to be euthanized as a result.
Shooting a hawk is a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as well as state law, Shapiro said.
“We have these laws in place for a reason,” he said. “Wildlife is a precious resource for all of us. Wildlife belongs to all of us. Poachers are not only committing an illegal act, but they’re doing something totally selfish and wrong, because they’re taking it away from all of us.”
Wildlife officials have reported that poachers often commit other crimes, as well, Shapiro said.
“You can’t get into the mind of someone who does this,” he said. “The people who poach, it’s not to put food on the table ... these are not hunters, people in our community we respect. Poaching is illegal; it’s often done for a profit motive. A hawk ... the body could be sold, the parts could be sold.
“What we’re also seeing is a disturbing trend, thrill killing. Thrill killers just shoot the animals, often they don’t retrieve the bodies. They just get the high of killing animals.”
Poaching is a particular focus for the Humane Society, and includes the killing of threatened and endangered species, using illegal weapons or operating outside of licensed guidelines. Shapiro said that the organization has offered thousands of dollars in rewards to recruit the public’s help.
“Hawks play an environmental role in our environment, in the ecological balance of nature,” he said.