ENVIRONMENT

Air Force Academy's Falcon Mascot Hurt In Army Football Prank

The majestic bird of prey, swiped in a West Point rivalry prank, injured her wings thrashing in dog crate.

Two West Point cadets’ prank on the Air Force Academy’s football team went seriously awry over the weekend, injuring the rival team’s falcon mascot.

The bird was bloodied during a botched kidnapping, but the injuries aren’t life-threatening and she appears to be on the mend, according to the Air Force Academy.

The West Point pranksters snatched two falcons belonging to the Air Force Academy: Aurora, a 22-year-old gyrfalcon that serves as the official mascot, and Oblio, a younger Peregrine falcon. The Air Force Falcons football team was at West Point for Saturday’s game against the Army Black Knights, which Army won. 

The Army cadets reportedly threw sweaters over the birds and locked them in a dog crate. When they returned the birds, Aurora’s wings were bloody, likely from thrashing in the crate.

“I think they had them for a couple hours and then they realized it was a bad mistake,” Sam Dollar, the Air Force Academy’s falconry team adviser, told The New York Times. “When Aurora started thrashing around in the crate, they decided that wasn’t a good thing.”

Aurora was soon flying in her pen after her return. “This is an extremely good sign,” Air Force Academy spokeswoman Lt. Col Tracy Bunko said in a statement. “We will continue to evaluate her and administer antibiotics to prevent an infection. We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support, and optimistic about Aurora’s recovery.”

Oblio was uninjured.

The public was furious and many people demanded on Twitter that the Army cadets be expelled.

A West Point spokeswoman said in a statement Sunday that the “U.S. Military Academy sincerely apologizes for an incident involving cadets and the Air Force Academy falcons. The matter is currently under investigation. We are taking the situation very seriously.”

West Point has a long history of pranking rival football teams. An agreement was reached — with the Navy — in 1991 to leave mascots out of the pranks, noted the Times.

The Army didn’t reveal the cadets’ punishment.

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