West Precinct detectives and the Seattle Animal Shelter are investigating a man for possible animal cruelty charges after he was caught strangling a hawk Monday in a downtown park. The hawk was so seriously injured that it had to be euthanized.
Around 4 pm on October 1st, officers went to Victor Steinbrueck Park, near the Pike Place Market, after receiving a report about a man harming a bird.
At the park, officers found the man, who was holding the bird—a Cooper’s Hawk—in his hands and told him to let it go.
Instead, the suspect—who appeared intoxicated—swore at officers and walked away.
Officers believed the man was suffocating the bird and, with the help of Pike Place Market security, grabbed hold of the suspect’s arms to try to get him to release the hawk.
The man gripped the bird even tighter, but officers were eventually able to convince him to release the hawk.
Officers arrested the man and turned the Cooper’s Hawk over to PAWS.
According to Dr. John Huckabee of PAWS, staff at the shelter found the bird had sustained ‘blunt trauma” and had a severely injured wing, and would not be able to fly normally again.
Because the hawk’s injuries were so serious, PAWS staff were forced to euthanize the bird.
Animal shelter staff and police are now trying to figure out which of the bird’s injuries were caused by the suspect. It’s not yet clear whether the hawk had already sustained some of its injuries before the suspect grabbed it.
However, the man could still face criminal animal cruelty charges as officers did witness the man squeezing the bird. Police are also investigating whether the man may also have violated the Federal Migratory Bird Act, which protects birds like the Cooper’s Hawk.
Warning: incredibly sad photo below—