Project Wildlife euthanized the gorgeous Red-Tailed Hawk I brought them after Richard Hunter found it injured and in shock in the middle of a street in Oceanside. The bird was standing strong and tall that morning. Four days later it was dead. They will not disclose why the bird was euthanized.
I had a long conversation with them when I was there to get their assurance I would be contacted if the injury was not rehab-able for release to the wild, to make sure every avenue for adoption by an educational program was explored. They said they had a list of rehabbers they used, but would not tell me who was on it. I left my contact information as well as a note on the bird’s chart. Their policy is to only update about an animal’s condition by email, and they said it was always backlogged weeks to months. I finally convinced them to allow me to check on the injury diagnosis in person, and I visited the following day. The vet tech said nothing was broken, there was a muscle/tendon tear, he was in ICU and expected to be able to recover for release. So I breathed a sigh of relief that we would probably not have to deal with the issue of suitability or availability of an educational home. I told them a group of bird owners in San Diego was trying to organize donations to help with his care. That was on Saturday. The following Tuesday when a local parrot welfare group contacted them for a photo to help raise funds for rehabilitation, they were informed the hawk had been euthanized. They would not give any other info.
Avian injuries can be touchy, especially if they involve bites from other animals, but if there was a good cause for euthanasia like a spreading septic infection causing illness, this information should be made public. In many cases, such as this one, the person finding and rescuing a raptor actually exposes themself to significant physical injury if the bird is fearful or panicked. They are a non-profit dependent on donations and volunteers for operation, which actively solicits donations for an animal’s care when it is dropped off. A mutually supportive relationship with the community should be a priority.
Please help demand accountability from this group. It is understandable in the spring when there are scores of baby songbirds falling from nests and time is strained to the limit. There is no reason for complete unaccountability with the much less common rescues of larger species. Click on the image above for Project Wildlife contact information, share this post, or otherwise spread the word.
In the meantime, consider taking any large birds to another facility or vet unless they are in critical condition and need immediate euthanasia. They do not do the actual rehabilitation of large birds in any case, only urgent care or euthanasia. I will drive or arrange suitable transport for any raptor (hawk, owl, falcon) or corvid (raven, crow) to the nearest publicly accountable rescue in the county if needed.
The Fund for Wildlife Animal Center has a large facility in Ramona and has rehabbed many large birds, including recently a gravely ill Bald Eagle. They provide much more information about their program on their website and I will be looking into their policies as well as other facility options in the SD area.
Call or text me via the contact info on my Facebook page if you have a raptor or corvid that needs transporting (with assistance of one of the local licensed falconers if available): https://www.facebook.com/FINDCLU/
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