But I've Only Ever Helped You...
Medium: Watercolor. 5 X 9 inches
Birds of prey in the United States are protected by Federal law, yet this still
does not stop some people from shooting them. One of the most common reasons of raptor
shootings is through the outdated belief that these birds will ruin a farm by hunting
livestock. True, a hawk may occasionally go after an unattended chicken (what predator
WOULDN'T go after an easy meal?) but such predation on livestock is not as common as the
prey raptors such as the red-tailed hawk prefer - rodents.
Red-tailed hawks are expert rodent hunters. Having one or a pair of these birds on a farm
is the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly method of rodent control you can have.
Yet people still shoot these birds, under the belief that they need to remove them from their
property as a 'risk.' As any responsible farmer knows, putting your animals outside will ALWAYS
run the risk of predation. You should be more worried about stray dogs or cats getting your chickens
than a soaring hawk.
In 2002, a woman in Pennsylvania was charged with killing and trapping 171 hawks. The reason?
She disliked that the birds were hunting game birds that she released on her property to train
her dogs. This woman received a fine of nearly $130,000 and avoided jail time. This 'fine' was a
slap on the wrist for the woman, who was a millionaire and still saw no problem with what she did.
It saddens me that raptors are still being killed for these 'reasons', which are not really
reasons at all and more excuses to shoot at birds that really do more help than harm. Those
who shoot hawks to protect a few chickens are shooting themselves in the foot...as these birds
do more to protect crops from rodent damage than any pesticide, trap, or cat could ever do.
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