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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 15 - 21, 2002


Injured goshawk returned to wild

Rescue Ranch appeals for 
donation of land

Express Staff Writer

Three weeks ago Wendy Werth found an inured goshawk on her deck in the Starweather Subdivision, north of Hailey.

The bird apparently flew into one of the house’s windows in pursuit of prey. It looked like it had broken a leg and wing.

Jeff King, of Sawtooth Animal Center in Bellevue, releases a goshawk Saturday that he helped recuperate after being found injured at a mid-valley home. Express photos by Willy Cook

Her husband Bob and son Casey took the goshawk to Jeff King, a veterinarian who diagnosed swelling of the brain, but found no broken wing or leg on the hawk.

"He had the spins really bad," said King of Sawtooth Animal Center in Bellevue. "He kept turning and flying to the left."

The goshawk had straightened out and was flying right, by Saturday, however. So, King, the Werths and Rescue Ranch founder and president Cheryl Welsh gathered at the scene of the accident to release the bird.

The goshawk’s Latin name is Accipiter gentilis for its nobility (gentilis) and ability to seize its prey.

King said he was able to approximate the bird’s age at 11 months because of the color of his irises and plumage.

"The eye goes from yellow to red, and he’ll have a black cap, gray body, and barred black and gray tail," King said.

He held the bird confined in a scarf-like Persian falconry device called an "aba" before its release. When freed, it flew off straight, although a little awkwardly.

But before the hawk was released, King took him over to the window he crashed into and said, "Bad window, bad."

Judging from his high-pitched whistle, the bird got the message.

King said the goshawk was one of the lucky ones, since injured birds of prey, even if found, often don’t survive because there are more injured birds than caregivers.

Welsh said that federal law governs that if an injured bird of prey cannot be rehabilitated within three months, it must be euthanized.

If it can be rehabilitated but cannot be released into the wild, it still must be euthanized, unless it can be used in an educational program.

King gave the example of a golden eagle he had recently treated.

Its wing was so badly injured, that he had to amputate the end of it. Luckily for the eagle, an educational purpose was found for it.

Welsh’s Rescue Ranch, south of Bellevue, would be a place to rehabilitate hurt and unwanted animals of all kinds, and to use the animals for educational programs in the Wood River Valley.

The ranch, however, is still in need of a home, so Welsh used the goshawk’s release as an opportunity "to plea for land."

An investment adviser and 20-year resident of the Wood River Valley, Welsh came up with the idea of the Rescue Ranch along with several others in February 2000.

The ranch is modeled somewhat after an animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, called Best Friends.

For more information, call Welsh at 788-9167.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.