Update, July 2023 — Last month the New York State Senate and Assembly passed the bill to end brutal wildlife killing contests. It now heads to the desk of Governor Kathy Hochul, whose approval would make New York State the ninth state in the nation to outlaw such kills. Those interested in encouraging Governor Hochul to sign S. 4099 into law can call (518) 474-8390, or contact her using an on-line contact form here >>
In wildlife killing contests, participants compete to kill coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other ecologically vital species for cash and prizes. Hundreds of animals may be killed at a single event and countless others may be injured. During springtime contests, dependent young may be orphaned and left to die from starvation, predation or exposure. After the killing is over, the animals are often dumped like trash, away from the public eye.
“It is not a sport, it is not hunting, it is the killing of wildlife.” –NYS Senator Timothy Kennedy told WGRZ-TV in February.
Stopping these contests would not reduce opportunities to hunt coyotes or other wildlife, prohibit big buck competitions or fishing tournaments, prevent the lethal control of wildlife to protect livestock or outlaw field dog trials. It would simply prohibit the competitive killing of wildlife for frivolous prizes. All wildlife species play an important role in healthy ecosystems. It’s time for New York to join Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland and the five other states that have already outlawed these cruel, unsporting and ecologically destructive events.
UPDATE 5/31/23: Congratulations to WGRZ-TV Ch. 2 photographer Terry Belke! This month, Terry won an award for his story on this bald eagle rescue and release from the New York State Outdoor Writers Association! Terry received first place in the Excellence in Craft for TV, Radio, and Audio category! (By the way, he also tied for third place in the same category!) See more on this coveted distinction here >>.
Terry, we are honored you chose to tell this story, and convey the emotion and sentiment associated with this beautiful animal, her rehabilitation, and her release!
UPDATE 9/12/21:This afternoon, the injured bald eagle found by Buffalo Police & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County returned to the skies of Western New York! As detailed below, the eagle was operated on by staff at Cornell University’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital on May 27, and on June 30, the incredible team at Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc. in Holland, NY picked up the eagle for extensive rehabilitation led by Marianne Hites! Today, the Messinger Woods team (pictured here), joined by members of the SPCA and local media, released the bald eagle at Wendt Beach in Derby, NY! Check out video of the release below:
To learn more about Messinger Woods and the fine work the organization does in caring for the wildlife of our community, please visit their Facebook page here >>
Thank you to all who played a part in this gorgeous creature’s return to our skies. An entire community came together to save her life, from the Buffalo Police to members of the SPCA Serving Erie County, to the team at Cornell, and finally to the crew at Messinger Woods. Neither the SPCA Serving Erie County or Messinger Woods would be able to do the work the organizations do and save the lives of so many animals each year if it wasn’t for the donors who make our work possible. On behalf of Messinger Woods and the Wildlife team at the SPCA Serving Erie County, thank you to the donors who help us give these animals second chances.
UPDATE 5/28/21: On Wednesday, May 26, the bald eagle spotted by members of the Buffalo Police Department & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a window in the City of Buffalo was transported to Ithaca, NY. The eagle was dropped off at Cornell University’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital for surgery on a severely fractured femur; the center wanted him immediately because, as our own Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Karen Slote and Wildlife Director Barbara Haney explained earlier this week, after that fracture the muscles contract and can make surgery much more difficult.
Today, we heard from staff there that the eagle is doing “great” after surgery! Now he’ll have time to rest and they will create a rehabilitation plan for him. Exciting news for the eagle, and for this community!
Also of note: in the photo here, you’ll notice a thin, thread-like spike (for lack of a better word!) at the tip of the eagle’s wings. Barbara Haney tells us that is indicative of the eagle’s status as a first-year eagle born sometime this calendar year, probably February or March. According to the National Eagle Center website, bald eagles fledge at approximately 10 – 14 weeks, which tells us he has not been out of the nest for long.
We may not receive another eagle update from the wildlife hospital for a few weeks, but when we do, we will definitely share that update with you.
Once again, we thank the members of this community for your care and compassion. Your constant support of all types is what makes our work possible.
UPDATE 5/26/21: The bald eagle spotted by Buffalo Police & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a window in the City of Buffalo was dropped off moments ago by the SPCA’s Gina Lattuca at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital, an annex of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. He was photographed upon admission. We will provide updates on his progress as they are made available. Thank you to this caring, compassionate community, for all of the interest in and prayers for this magnificent bird. Your concern, your donations, and your constant support of all types are what make our work possible.
A juvenile bald eagle is in critical condition at the Wildlife Department of the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a high building window in the City of Buffalo yesterday.
The SPCA received the call yesterday afternoon from Tracy Masiello, crime analyst for Erie County, after Buffalo Police Detective Mark Costantino and Officer David O’Brien heard a loud crash outside of their offices at Court and Franklin Streets in Buffalo. They ran outside and there, across the street, a large bird was struggling on the sidewalk. The crash they heard was the bird flying into a window of a building across the street, approximately 30 feet high.
“He tried to raise himself four or five times, but he was struggling and we could see he couldn’t lift up,” Detective Costantino said today. Despite the fact that the bird didn’t have a full white-feathered head, Detective Costantino said he knew right away that the bird was a bald eagle. “He was enormous, and his talons were so large, I could tell we were looking at an eagle.”
After receiving the call from Masiello, SPCA Serving Erie County Animal Rescue Team Officers Jennifer Maleskis and Tyler Robertson arrived at the location, retrieved the young bird, and rushed him to the SPCA’s Wildlife Department hospital, where they were met by Wildlife Director Barbara Haney and, within the hour, SPCA Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Karen Slote.
“By the time the bird made it to us, he was obviously quite stressed,” says Haney. “In addition to not being able to stand, he had an injury on his beak and blood in his mouth. He was open-mouthed breathing, a clear sign of his high stress level.”
Dr. Slote was able to provide an initial examination and determined the bird, a first-year bald eagle, has a fractured femur. Further assessment and radiographs this afternoon confirmed a severe fracture.
“We are doing everything we can for this magnificent bird, considering its compromised state at the moment,” said Haney, when asked whether the bird will survive. “We’re careful not to provide any solid prognosis at this time because the bird is still in critical condition and the outcome is uncertain.”
At this time, Dr. Slote will consult with wildlife professionals at Cornell University’s Wildlife Health Center, and will send them her assessment of the eagle along with the radiograph images. If the bird survives and responds to the supportive care, fluids, and medications it is receiving at the SPCA, Haney says, “…then it’s our hope that, once he is strong and stable, Cornell will accept the bird for surgery. The surgical team at Cornell is much better-suited for this sort of surgery…they perform it much more frequently…and they have the equipment and the pins and the other necessities large enough and strong enough for this extremely large animal.”
Haney adds, “Our primary hope right now is that the bird does, in fact, survive. That’s what we’re focused on right now. We’re doing everything in our power to help his survival so that we can actually have that discussion with Cornell about surgery and rehabilitation.”
This eagle is not the first cared for by the SPCA Serving Erie County Wildlife Department. “Eagles have made quite a comeback in the last 30 years or so,” Haney said, “and we’re starting to see them in all parts of Western New York, the City of Buffalo included. It’s possible this bird became disoriented for what could be one of several reasons, possibly even due to his reflection in the window of the high building, or he may have been in a territorial scuffle with a peregrine falcon, as hypothesized by our contacts at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”
The SPCA wishes to thank Buffalo Police Detective Costantino, Buffalo Police Officer O’Brien, and Erie County Crime Analyst Masiello for their cooperation, and for contacting our officers when they found the eagle and saw that it was in distress.