Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials have received several reports of birds of prey being shot and injured by pellet guns, the agency said in a news release. 

“It is illegal to shoot or kill birds of prey and other protected species,” said CPW District Wildlife Officer Jordan Likes.

The Birds of Prey Foundation in Broomfield has admitted 11 birds in less than five months that were confirmed to have been shot, and that number does not include the many raptors admitted with injuries suspected to be a result of being shot, CPW said.

Birds of prey can be eagles, hawks, falcons or owls, CPW said.  

The birds, being turned over to local wildlife rehabilitators for care, have been shot with pellet rifles, and the pellet is sometimes still embedded in the bird and occasionally multiple pellets have been found inside the birds, CPW said. The injuries can prevent these birds from being able to fly, hunt and get food.  

CPW is asking individuals to stop shooting birds of prey with pellet guns. CPW said it causes significant harm to the birds, and the act of shooting the birds of prey with pellet guns is a violation of both state law and federal law. Individuals found responsible for shooting a bird of prey with a pellet gun may receive a citation that may result in a fine or possibly even jail time. 

Birds of prey are protected on both the state and federal level. CPW classifies all birds of prey as non-game species, meaning that the birds cannot be taken, possessed, attempt to be taken or harmed, CPW said. Birds of prey can only be possessed in the state of Colorado under very specific licenses.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protects birds of prey under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, or the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Some birds of prey in Colorado are listed as either threatened or endangered by CPW and by the USFWS under the Endangered Species Act.

For more information about preventing conflicts with birds of prey, or questions on wildlife matters in general, contact your local CPW office or call CPW’s Denver office at 303-291-7227 during normal business hours.

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