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Purdue sets traps for aggressive hawks, cautions public

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. –- While attempts are under way to capture and relocate a pair of red-tailed hawks on the southwest side of campus that have been aggressive toward people, Purdue University officials on Wednesday (Feb. 23) cautioned the public to take precautions.

“Be alert and carry an umbrella, which when opened will provide a shield and deterrent should the hawks swoop down,” suggested Gary Evans, director of grounds.

A pair of hawks nesting in the area of the Purdue Village apartments and Birck Nanotechnology Center have attacked several pedestrians.

On Friday (Feb. 18) Purdue crews captured a male hawk, but his female partner escaped. The male was banded and relocated to southern Indiana. Earlier that week, a different male hawk with an injured wing was removed from the Purdue Village area and taken to the Wildcat Creek Wildlife Center. Crews are uncertain whether the aggressive hawks had attacked the injured one or if the injured hawk had been the female’s mate.

“Either way, we believe the female has found another mate,” Evans said.

Officials ask that the public and news media avoid these areas, which have been fenced off.

“We would really appreciate everyone’s cooperation,” Evans said. “The hawks are very wary, so the fewer people there, the easier it will be for us to trap them.”

When the hawks nested in low pedestrian traffic areas and were not aggressive, they were allowed to nest and raise their young without interference, said Judy Loven, Indiana state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. “These repeated attacks are a concern for all members of the Purdue community.”

“However, these repeated attacks are a concern not only for employees and students, but also for children at the Purdue Child Care Center and Purdue Village,” she said.

The injured hawk may be rehabilitated, banded and released back into the wild in another part of the state, or, if it cannot care for itself, it could be used for educational purposes, such as for nature centers and youth groups, Loven said.

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