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Parks and Wildlife: Stop shooting birds of prey with pellet guns — it’s illegal

After rescuing multiple birds of prey injured by pellet guns in recent months, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding everyone that targeting raptors is against the law.

“It is illegal to shoot or kill birds of prey and other protected species,” said CPW District Wildlife Officer Jordan Likes. Birds of prey — which include hawks, falcons, eagles and owls — are protected on both the state and federal level.

The photo above is of a Swainson’s Hawk with injuries from a pellet gun. It was rescued by wildlife officials and has been brought to the Birds of Prey Foundation in Broomfield for treatment and rehabilitation.

According to CPW, the Foundation has admitted 11 birds confirmed to have been shot in less than five months. They emphasize that this number does not include injured birds only suspected of being shot.

“Pellets cause significant trauma for birds of prey and may even result in death,” said Desirae Kovacich, ICU Manager at Birds of Prey. “Common injuries these birds suffer include fractures, open wounds and lead toxicity. Fractures, either from the projectiles themselves or from falls that happen after being shot, take a minimum of two weeks to completely heal. This does not include the time these birds need to regain the strength and endurance necessary for release.”

Individuals found responsible for shooting a bird of prey may receive a citation resulting in a fine or potentially jail time.

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