Two birds were used as target practice in Tampa Bay in the last week. An osprey was shot in Shore Acres in Saint Petersburg, and a few days later, someone shot a Broad-winged hawk in Odessa.
Both birds were taken to Busch Gardens' new Animal Care Center, where they received free veterinary care .
"It is real unfortunate that people do that, but the good news is that we have a chance to fix them up," said Dr. Pete Black. "In a way, they are the luckiest of the unlucky ones."
Black is the senior veterinarian at the Center. Over the last four decades, a Busch Gardens spokeswoman says the park has helped rehabilitate more than 20,000 animals brought to them by wildlife rehabilitators. The park does not accept animals brought by the general public.
The osprey, a female, is thought to be about a year old. She had to have one wing amputated, so she will live the rest of her life in captivity. The Broad-wing hawk is expected to recover and eventually be released back into the wild.
Save Our Seabirds is going to pick up both birds on Friday.
Shooting them was a criminal act. If the shooters get caught, they can be fined up to $500 and sentenced to up to 60 days in jail if they are prosecuted under state law. The penalties are more harsh if they are prosecuted under federal law.
The Clearwater Audubon Society is offering a $1,650 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot the osprey. For further information, call (727) 798-2385.
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