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State Wildlife Officers Investigating Osprey Shooting In Key West

Osprey are also called 'fish hawks' and are considered a state species of special concern in Monroe County only.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

State wildlife officers are investigating the shooting of an osprey Tuesday morning at a waterfront park in Key West.

Osreys - also known as fish hawks - are protected by the migratory bird act and are listed by the state as a species of special concern in Monroe County.

Executive Director of the Key West Wildlife Center Thomas Sweets said he got the call around 11:20 a.m. that there was an osprey with a broken wing that couldn't fly at Truman Waterfront.

When he got there, the Key West Police Department was on scene and officers told him the bird had been shot, he said.

"We don't get a lot of those every year," he said. "Sometimes we'll get hawks shot in the fall and winter by people trying to protect their pigeons, doves or chickens."

The bird was on the ground not far from the edge of the pier, he said.

"There I found the osprey in pretty bad shape, just flopping around, bleeding profusely from the right wing," he said.

The bird appeared to have been shot at the part that's referred to as the "wrist," the tip of the wing that plays a key role in getting lift and controlling flight. "It was twisted all around," Sweets said. "It was definitely really bad."

Sweets took the bird back to the Wildlife Center to stop the bleeding. It was transported to the Marathon Veterinary Hospital where Dr. Doug Mader operated on what he described as a compound fracture with a shattered bone in the bird's wing. He put in three pins and said the bird was "resting comfortably."

"The surgical part, the technical part, went very well," Mader said. But he said osprey, like many wild animals, often do not do well in captivity while recovering.

"Sometimes terrible things are fixable and sometimes things that don't look so bad are not," Sweets said.

The FWC did not respond to requests for information.

Osprey are also known as "fish hawks" because that is their food source. They are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Act Treaty. The state lists them as a species of special concern in Monroe County only.

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Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.