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Hawk injured in Wallow Fire takes flight

Wildlife center releases young bird following recovery

GOODYEAR – Forced from its nest by the largest wildfire in Arizona history, this red-tailed hawk was too weak and dehydrated to fly away when a family found it in the backyard of their Eager home.

Less than three months later, it flew swiftly back into the wild at the Estrella Mountain Regional Park after recuperating at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center

“Being able to do this is what any rehabilitator lives for,” said Tammy Hines, a Game and Fish volunteer who helped release this and another red-tailed hawk Wednesday.

The second hawk, an adult, was nursed to health after suffering a gunshot wound.

Lynda Lambert, a Game and Fish spokeswoman, called the release a great success for the program, although caring for birds is just one part of its mission of rehabilitation and education.

The center treats everything from bobcats and raccoons to owls and mice, helping more than 1,000 native animals each year, she said.

“Our goal is to rehab all those animals that can be, and release them back into the wild,” Lambert said.

For those that cannot be released, the center uses animals to educate more than 100,000 Arizona residents each year through community events and visits to schools.

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The effort is supported in part by the Heritage Fund, which voters approved to direct a portion of lottery revenues to wildlife conservation and other efforts.

Sandy Cate, the center’s coordinator, said having the release outside Phoenix worked because red-tailed hawks are migrating south out of the mountains as temperatures cool.

“Today is all about what we strive to do,” she said.

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Brandon Quester/Cronkite News Service

The juvenile red-tailed hawk that was rescued from the Wallow Fire three months ago flies away from its transportation carrier within Estrella Mountain Regional Park. The animal was discovered in a homeowner’s backyard, when residents returned after evacuating for the Wallow Fire.