Cooper’s Hawk Recovering from Gunshot

provided by CROW

At the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), many of the patients that are admitted are a result of a negative human interaction. Most of the time, these interactions are not intentional, such as being entangled in discarded fishing line, being hit by a car, or nest being destroyed in the process of routine yardwork. Occasionally, however, patients are admitted as a result of intentional harm caused by humans.

On Monday, September 28, this Cooper’s hawk was admitted from Cape Coral after being found unable to fly in a person’s yard. When it arrived to the hospital, CROW’s veterinarians discovered the hawk to have feathers matted with blood over its right pectoral muscles. As they examined closer, they identified the entry point of a gunshot wound. Radiographs later confirmed that a gunshot pellet was lodged in the musculature of the shoulder. The hawk also suffered a fractured coracoid, one of the bones in the shoulder girdle.

“A fractured coracoid is a releaseable fracture if it heals correctly,” says Dr. Sasha Troiano, one of CROW’s veterinary interns. “We immobilize the wing so its not moving and that will allow it to stabilize and heal over time.”

The hawk was placed in a body wrap to keep the wing still and prevent the hawk from moving it. Additionally, wound care is needed for the entry wound to heal. The site was cleaned, bandaged and will require fresh bandages daily until it heals. As for the bullet lodged in its shoulder, it will remain in place as its location does not necessitate removal.

While it may seem like a bullet needs be removed for the patient to live, it is actually one of those Hollywood myths only seen in movies. The truth is that once a bullet enters the body and stops moving, it has already done its damage. In most cases, the body is able to form a wall of tissue around the bullet, making it harmless to the animal.

“If the bullet is superficial and easily accessible, or near major organs or joints that it may shift and potentially cause more damage, then we will remove it,” according to Dr. Toriano. “In this case, since it is deep in the muscle, we would potentially cause more damage in the removal process than the bullet will cause if left in place.”

At this time, the hawk continues to receive wound management care and remains in a body wrap to keep the wing immobilized. Dr. Troiano is optimistic that once the wound heals and the fracture stabilizes, the hawk will be moved outside for further rehabilitation and eventually release!

THIS WEEK AT CROW (9/23-9/29):
There were 83 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 20 eastern cottontails, 15 eastern gray squirrels, two red-bellied woodpeckers, two double-crested cormorants, seven mourning doves, a gopher tortoise, a green heron and a least bittern. Recent Releases include three ovenbirds, a black skimmer, an eastern screech owl, and a Florida softshell turtle. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases!

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year!

Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

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