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'Very Aggressive' Hawk Raises Concern For Small Dog Owners In Bristol – LevittownNow.com

elizabeth fisher 1 Elizabeth Fisher
Raptors feed in broad daylight; owls go hunting at night. Bucks Countians who own small dogs left unsupervised in their yards need to remember these timelines. It could save the lives of their pets. 
Raptors are birds of prey, like the red-tail hawks whose population seems to be increasing enough to be a threat to puppies, Chihuahuas, and teacup size dogs, said Leah Stallings, executive director of Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Chalfont. 
And, to add to anxiety, what is described as a “very aggressive” red-tail hawk has been circling and dive-bombing properties along the river side of Radcliffe Street in Bristol Borough. So far, it’s killing squirrels (its natural prey) but dog owners are extra vigilant with pets. 
Cold weather and snow-covered ground leave predatory birds struggling for food. That could change with warmer weather and diminish the danger, Stallings said. 
“It’s unusual for the hawks to be so aggressive, but we have a very high level of birds of prey looking for food. And they’re a  protected species so nothing can be done about it,” Stallings said. 
Birds of prey usually hunt for rabbits, and other small wildlife. They have keen eyesight but they’re looking for movement, and small dogs’ movements are similar to rabbits, especially the way they run, she said. 
An article published in theBark magazine, author Steven Neill highlighted how quickly predator birds can strike. In one case, a man walking with friends, his Pomeranian on a leash, saw a shadow over while he was talking to friends when a red-tail hawk swooped down with lightning speed, picked up the dog – leash and all – and flew away.   
It rare for a hawk to approach humans, but it’s not unheard of, Stallings said. 
The same story recounted a tragedy that involved a Great horned owl, a night prowler. The owl plucked a Pomeranian from its back yard. 
Timing could mean everything if someone plans to leave his or her dog outside, unsupervised. Think bright sunlight for hawks on the prowl; dawn and dusk for owls searching for food. 
PetMD , and online source for health information for pets, written by veterinarians, offers the following tips to protect your dog from predator birds:
A Bristol Brough official said that the state oversees wildlife, but he has had complaints about red-tail hawks as far back as a year ago. 
One resident complained about hawks gathering in his riverside back yard, and staring him down., said borough Animal Control Officer Bill Palmer 
“The hawk population is going to continue growing because of development. People are tearing everything down and the birds have no place else to go,” the animal control officer said.  
Red-tail hawks can be found in every part of the country, and in rural areas, as well as cities. They come under the purview of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The commission can be contacted at 717-787-4250.
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