Our raptor populations face many challenges. Some such as the northern spotted owl and the northern goshawk have been impacted by habitat loss and fragmentation and continue to experience significant populations declines. Others such as the peregrine falcon, bald eagle and osprey were decimated by the pesticide DDT which was used during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, but have recovered since DDT was banned in 1972 to the point where we now regularly see all three species along the Willamette River. Some species such as American kestrel and golden eagle appear to be declining but the exact causes have not been fully determined. Some like our red-tails on the fire escape, which are able to utilize a variety of habitat types including heavily fragmented and disturbed landscapes, have actually increased in numbers.
One of the most disturing causes of raptor mortality is poaching. Audubon's Wildlife Care Center as well as other wildlife rehabilitation centers throughout Oregon continue to see a steady stream of hawks, falcons, owls and eagles that have been intentionally shot. Two weeks ago our center took in a peregrine falcon that had been shot near Newburg. The bird died while being transported to our center. This is a species that our country spent nearly four decades recovering from the brink of extinction. Even today, a huge cadre of biologists and volunteers spend huge amounts time monitoring populations to ensure that they continue to remain healthy.
It has been illegal since 1918 to harm or kill a bird of prey. However the shoooting continues...There is cuirrently legislation moving through the Oregon legislature that would strengthen penalties for poaching of birds of prey as well as other protected wildlife species.
Illegally shot peregrine fron near Newburg
X-ray of illegally shot peregrine from Newburg area. Note pellet near spine.