BY MELANIE BUCK –
Now only 57 animals away from 80,000 releases, wildlife expert Tommy Young, released two hawks over the last two weeks to bring his total releases to 79,943 in 30 years, a feat that not many can claim.
Young, of the Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center, released a rehabilitated juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk, at the Visitor’s Center on Rich Mountain on Friday, November 21. The hawk had been hit by a car near Ft. Smith about six weeks ago. The accident had fractured the hawk’s wing. By law, Young only has 180 days to nurse birds of prey back to health before he either has to release them, or destroy them. Destroying animals is not the way Young likes to handle any case so fixing the wing became priority.
With the help of Dr. Schnetzler, an orthepedic surgeon in Mena, who donated the line-up tool (pin), Young was able to perform surgery, placing a pin inside the wing, until it fully healed. At that point, the pin is removed and the bird began rehabilitation. Upon getting well, the hawk was released.
Young released a Cooper’s Hawk on Friday, November 28. This hawk, sponsored by Ginger Sterner of Edward Jones Investments, was found by Skyline Café and was also released at the Visitor’s Center. Young said, “Skyline Café called and said it was beating around between the café and art gallery. It had flown into a window, which is common because they are bird hunter only.” Young said the hawk had a concussion, a common injury among the bird of prey. Treatment is the same as for a human with the same condition.
If you would like to sponsor one of Young’s animals or make a donation, contact Young at the Center or mail to Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center, P.O. Box 1881, Mena, AR 71953.
Sometimes the Center gets as many as 500 hawks during the winter months. Young expressed that he needs leaves and acorns to help some of the animals during these next few cold months and also meat, such as chicken. If you have some you would like to donate, you can drop them off at the Center, located on Hwy. 270 West, at the base of Rich Mountain. The leaves and acorns help housed wildlife with the hibernation process while in the rehabilitated stages.