Vulture shot, admitted to hospital riddled with BBs

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

The black vulture was among the 69 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

The black vulture was rescued by a member of the public who found the bird on the side of the road in northeast Naples. The vulture was weak, barely able to stand, and therefore easily captured.

Upon admission, hospital staff initially suspected the vulture was suffering from trauma due to being hit by a car. But physical exam and diagnostic tests revealed the extent and cause of injury.

The vulture was very thin and was unable to extend its left wing. The vulture’s left eye was also damaged. The globe of the eye was sunken and both eyelids were swollen shut.

A radiograph was taken which revealed the vulture had been shot. The black vulture’s entire body was riddled with a total of 38 BBs; four of which were clustered around the left eye which was the cause of damage noted in the physical exam. Along with the damaged eye, a cause for concern was the bbs located near the right elbow joint. The damage from the BBs left the vulture painful and reluctant to extend its wing.

The 38 BBs caused considerable damage; the vulture endured much pain and suffering before being rescued on the side of the road. Sadly the time between injury and rescue was too long and the damage was too severe. The vulture did not survive.

I wish I could say it is a rare occurrence to see animals that have been shot, but I can’t. Last week alone, along with the black vulture, a red-shouldered hawk and a bald eagle were admitted — all severely injured after being shot. None of the birds survived their gunshot injuries. These intentional acts of animal cruelty are hard to fathom, especially when you see the pain and suffering wounded animals endure.

Animals should never be used for target practice.

While there may be a legal hunting season for some species of birds, there is never an open hunting season for eagles, hawks or vultures. Shooting these birds broke both state and federal laws. If you see someone illegally shooting a bird please report the incident to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; they will investigate the crime.

Recent Releases

Five brown pelicans, two mourning doves, a purple gallinule, six eastern cottontails, a ring-billed gull, a Florida softshell turtle, an eastern screech owl, a gopher tortoise, a laughing gull and a marsh rabbit were released this past week.

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