Red-Tail Hawk With Nail In Head Spotted In San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

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SAN FRANCISCO — A wildlife rescue group spent a third day in a San Francisco park trying to capture and rescue a red-tailed hawk that appears to have been shot in the head with a nail gun.

A rescuer spotted the bird Wednesday afternoon in one of its usual haunts in Golden Gate Park's southwest corner, where it had captured and was eating a gopher.

"We know he's gotten some nourishment, which is good because we know he's in a weakened state," said Rebecca Dmytryk, executive director of the Monterey-based group WildRescue.

At the same time, rescuers will have a harder time luring the hawk into their traps if it's been eating, she said. "We need him hungry."

Observers patrolling an area frequented by the hawk between a ball field and a lake got close enough to the bird to see the nail extending from its cheek through the front of its head. They said the hawk appeared to be in pain.

WildRescue was notified of the injured bird Sunday night.

It started scouring the park the following day, looking for signs of the hawk and setting traps. Rescuers are using traps rather than nets to capture the bird because they fear the nail could get caught on a net and further injure it.

"It's very time-consuming trying to find it," Dmytryk said. The bird was likely born in the park to parents who still live in the area, she said.

Rescuers believe someone intentionally hurt the hawk, saying a nail gun can be fired accurately at a distance of several yards.

A donor pledged an additional $5,000 to WildRescue's reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever harmed the bird, bringing the total reward to $10,000.

Red-tailed hawks are protected under federal law and harming one is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $15,000 fine, according to Elise Traub, outreach and policy manager for the Humane Society of the United States' Wildlife Abuse Campaign.

Traub spoke to the San Francisco Examiner ( ).

Sightings of the hawk can be reported to WildRescue at 831-429-2323 or rescue(at)

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