Red-tailed hawks seen in West Milford

West Milford. While not endangered, spotting this predator can be a treat for birders.

| 27 Jul 2022 | 02:42

Red tailed hawks, once rarely seen in the greater Township of West Milford area, are among the many birds here now. Published articles say this bird of prey is not endangered, with its population and range increasing over the last century.

Like many bird species the red-tailed hawk is protected in North America by the migratory bird act. However, like many other species, the beautiful raptor continues to face many threats. Their lifespan is 10 to 15 years. They eat snakes, rats and gophers.

The red-tailed hawk is a federally protected bird. Under federal and state law it is illegal for anyone to injure, harass, kill or possess a bird of prey. This includes harming or removing its nest. It is illegal to harm or hunt or trap or cage or poison one without a permit. Doing so can bring a fine up to $15,000.

If this bird attacks chickens, one can only shoot the predator if they have a special permit from the NJ Wildlife Service. Some other hawk species are considered endangered. Of the more than 200 species of hawks, only about 20 are considered endangered world-wide.

Hawks are not usually hostile to people, but can become aggressive when their nests appear threatened. Hawks breed throughout most of north America from the interior of Alaska as far south as Panama and the West Indies. Species that eat hawks include racoons, red foxes, owls, eagles and sometimes snakes.