By Michael Tidemann
Anyone who ever dreamed to question the kind-heartedness of falconers would ask no more questions if they could only see what Jason Kollasch and Dr. Ross Dirks did for a female red-tailed hawk last Saturday.
The hawk’s head was covered when it was treated to keep it from attacking humans.
They saved her life.
Both avid falconers, which includes flying hunting hawks as well, both Kollasch and Dirk had a special interest in the hawk that some cruel, heartless hunter had shot through the breast with an arrow and left to die. Hawks are a protected species, and hefty fines apply.
Kollasch said someone from the Estherville alternative high school saw the hawk with an arrow in it by the baseball complex. Kollasch later took a picture of the hawk on a pole last Wednesday. Then he checked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources which said it had received reports of the hawk over the past two weeks.
Kollasch said Gary Koppie received a call that the hawk was by Wallingford last Friday, and that was when Kollasch set out on his mission of mercy.
After searching for three hours on the south side of Wallingford Saturday, Kollasch located the Hawk and set a trap and caught her within minutes. They put food wrap over her to protect her and those who were helping her.
"She was calm. She didn't struggle very much," Kollasch said. Next he contacted Dirks who removed the arrow and gave the hawk antibiotics.
"He's never had anything like that come in," Kollasch said of Dirks.
Kollasch acknowledges that being a falconer has a lot to do with his determination to find the hawk and bring her in for medical attention.
"I wanted to at least give her a chance," Kollasch said. "She was fine. I've never seen anything like that."
Dirks, who has had many hunting falcons and hawks over the years and has toured schools widely with his birds, first learned about the hawk after Kollasch e-mailed the photo. He was surprised that the hawk still ranged throughout a 10-mile area.
"It was moderately thin and underweight but it wasn't on the verge of starvation," Dirks said.
So what's the hawk's prognosis?
"I think it's doing very, very well," said Dirks. "I've heard of it happening before." However, Dirks has never seen it firsthand.
Dirks says he'll keep the hawk on antibiotics before it's released.
"I was glad to be able to do my part," he said, giving most of the credit to Kollasch. "He's the one that put in the vast majority of the actual work. It was amazing that that bird could live like that and live reasonably well."
Dirks said the hawk had apparently continued to hunt, despite the arrow embedded in its breast.
Emmet County Conservation Board Director Eric Anderson said hawks are a protected species and anyone found guilty of illegally shooting one can receive up to 30 days in jail and a $100 fine plus court costs, the replacement value of the bird and have hunting equipment seized.