Police: Man caught strangling hawk in downtown park

Police: Man caught strangling hawk in downtown park
Photo courtesy of the Seattle Police Department
SEATTLE -- Police say a man accused of strangling a hawk in downtown Seattle Monday afternoon could face animal cruelty charges.

Officers were called to Victor Steinbrueck Park near Pike Place Market at around 4 p.m. after getting calls about a man harming a bird.

When they they arrived, the officers encountered a man holding what they later learned was a Cooper's Hawk. The man, who police say appeared intoxicated, wouldn't let the bird go. Police say he swore at them and tried to walk away.

With help from Pike Place Market security, the officers grabbed the man and tried to wrestle the bird away from him. The man struggled with the officers and allegedly tightened his grip on the bird, though he eventually let go.

Police arrested the man and turned the hawk over to the PAWS animal shelter. Vets examined the bird and determined it had sustained blunt trauma and had a severely injured wing that would keep it from ever flying normally again.

Due to the the severity of the injuries, the vets were forced to euthanize the bird, according to police.

PAWS staff and police investigators are now trying to figure out if the man in the park is responsible for all the hawk's injuries or if it was already injured when he grabbed it.

Whatever the outcome, police say the man could still face animal cruelty charges for squeezing the bird. Police are also looking into whether he violated the federal Migratory Bird Act, which protects birds like the Cooper's Hawk.