A man roaming Hewlett Bay Park on Sunday night shot a yellow-crowned night heron, an endangered bird species.
The heron was shot on its left wing. Eyewitnesses were able to identify the shooter, according to Det. Bob Sowers of the Nassau County SPCA.
“We haven’t brought up charges or arrested the individual yet because we are working with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with this incident,” Sowers said. “We are coordinating with the other agencies to come up with a game plan for handling this situation. We will be ready with our plan in a couple of days.”
Sowers described the alleged as “a Hewlett Bay Park resident, adult Caucasian man in his 60s.”
According to Dr. Greg Nelson, the veterinarian surgeon from Central Veterinary Associates in Valley Stream, the adult bird was brought in with wounds to his broken left wing, lacerations on his thigh and chest, and cuts across his upper left thorax. “He will spend six to eight weeks here, and then be sent to a rehabilitation facility,” Nelson said. “He could be there for months. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him.”
The bird, affectionately named Ty, underwent a 15-minute surgery on Monday morning. “His bones were opened up to the outside, possibly being exposed to infectious elements,” Nelson said. “All his bones in his wing were manually aligned.”
The cost to perform this surgery is in the excess of thousands of dollars, Nelson said. “The cost is due to the multiple lacerations, splitting and setting the bones in place, and antibiotics,” he said.
Dr. John Charos, the president/CEO and director of Avian and Exotics medicine of Central Veterinary Associates said that while one pellet was found inside the bird, it is possible that the remaining injuries, as in the lacerations, could be the result of more than one pellet that hit the bird.
“The pellet we found was a 1.77-caliber pellet,” Charos said. “The pellet is typical of a Daisy or Crossman B.B. pellet gun. Witnesses heard at least three shots that night. I think that at least one shot of the pellet fractured the wing, and another shot passed through his left leg. I believe there could be a second shot made on him as well.”
There are only about 50,000 of this specific species of bird in the United States. They are found throughout the country, usually near coastlines. In this area of New York, the yellow-crowned heron is a migratory bird, one that goes south to warmer climates during the winter, and returning for the summer months.