By Don Ford

WALNUT CREEK (KPIX) — The Lindsay Wildlife Hospital in Walnut Creek occasionally receives an animal that is injured by gunshot, but the facility has recently seen a shocking spike in those injuries.

Doctors warn that many of the animals are not surviving their wounds.

A large female red tail hawk that was shot in the wing is one of the current patients of the hospital. While the wound is mostly healed on the surface, it is too early to tell if she will ever fly again. An x-ray clearly shows the bullet’s path through the wing, snapping a bone in pieces.

“It doesn’t look like it’s infected. A lot of the bruising and swelling is down, but we may not know for a couple of weeks if she’s going to be able to fly well enough to be released,” said Dr. Allison Daughtery.

This year, the hospital has treated 30 animals and birds for gunshots. Normally they see 10 to 15 a year. One bobcat came in last spring with its leg completely shattered, damaged beyond repair and too sick to recover. The animal had to be put down.

The shootings are hard to understand.

“Somebody had to do that deliberately,” said Daughtery.

The number of animals attacked has attracted the attention of law enforcement. Lt Evan Eustis of Contra Costa Animal Control told KPIX 5 the penalties can be severe.

“There’s different degrees. It depends on the method that’s used on the animal involved. But it could range from misdemeanor charges all the way to felony,” explained Eustis.

Authorities say there is no pattern to the shootings. They appear to be happening in different places with different weapons at different times. One thing is clear, authorities are on the alert in the hopes of catching the culprit or culprits behind the shootings.

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