YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An incident with a hawk prompted the Mahoning County Dog Warden’s Office to put out a warning Thursday.
The Dog Warden posted the warning to its Facebook page after reportedly receiving a call that the hawk swooped down and tried to grab a 5-year-old child. According to the Dog Warden, the child was left with scratches on his head.
The child’s mother was there, and the child was otherwise unharmed.
“This is a reminder that predators can come in all shapes and sizes,” the post read.
Jamey Emmert, wildlife communications specialist for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said it is “extremely unlikely” that the hawk swooped down with the intention of preying on the child but that it is possible that the hawk was protecting a nest.
The red-tailed hawk, Ohio’s most-common species, preys on rabbits, squirrels, mice and similarly-sized creatures.
“This 2.5-pound bird would never be able to fly away with even the smallest human,” Emmert wrote in an email.
Emmert said it is also possible that the hawk mistook something the child was wearing as prey.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has some information on how to handle an aggressive bird, particularly if the bird may be protecting its young or a nest:
- If the bird is nesting, stay out of the immediate area, if possible, until the young have fledged (left the nest) and the parents feel less threatened. You should not get too close or attempt to handle wild birds. These birds can be very strong and can potentially do great damage to someone who seems threatening to themselves or their young.
- Erect poles with flagging along walkways that are in the vicinity of the nest. When venturing in or around the parent bird’s territory, carry an open umbrella or a stick with flags attached above your head. The raptors will attack the tallest object rather than the person.
- Never use these objects as weapons to attack the birds. Make sure people are aware of the birds by posting signs in the area.
- In the event that a person or pet is attacked by a bird, and the skin is broken, wash the wound and treat it with antiseptic.