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Wildlife Damage Management

Hawks (and other birds of prey)

Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii)Hawks, falcons, owls, and eagles are all considered raptors and share certain visible characteristics. They have strong sharp talons, hooked beaks, keen eyesight, and tend to soar aloft or perch on high branches and power lines while searching for prey. They are all carnivorous predators that have evolved to capture prey in different types of habitat ranging from grassy fields to flowing rivers. Harriers glide low over open country to hunt for voles, while osprey soar over open water and dive for fish to meet their dietary needs. Each species has its own niche, but they all share three common needs: nesting sites, food, and water.

In the United States, raptors were almost driven to extinction and have been re-established through conservation efforts. While the successful story of the raptor revival is a source of pride for wildlife lovers all over the United States, you may feel that you have one raptor too many on your property if your are searching for information on this website. Keep in mind that hawks and other birds of prey help control rodent populations and other unwanted species. Also raptors are protected by state and federal laws. Only non-lethal methods for control are permitted unless you can show that the hawk presents a threat to human health or safety. Depredation permits can be requested through the Wildlife Services Office of APHIS.

As with most “nuisance wildlife” problems, the best solution is prevention. Raptors need food, water, and a nesting site to live. If you can exclude any one of these three variables, the bird will move on to find better habitat. A naturally occurring source of water like a stream or pond is hard to hide, so your best bet may be to make possible nesting sites less attractive and eliminate food sources where possible. Overhead cover for chickens or other vulnerable livestock can discourage avian predators like hawks. A hawk may be attracted to your property by an abundance of songbirds that habituate a birdfeeder. Remove the feeder for a week or two until the unwanted raptor moves on. Possible nesting sites -- in the limbs of a tree or in the opening of your chimney, can be made uninhabitable using porcupine wire or other exclusion devices.

Other non-lethal control measures such as the use of pyrotechnics, water hoses, scare pistols, or scare crows have been used with varying levels of success. Sometimes these tools will work, but if an easy source of prey is available, the bird will probably continue to hunt. Watch the video on this page for more information.

More Info
(From University of Nebraska)
Federal Protection
(From United States Department of Interior)
Alabama Raptors Video