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Hawk caught in Bridgeport might have West Nile

August 8, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — A hawk that was attacking people in the city on Tuesday was likely experiencing neurological issues, possibly a result of the West Nile virus, officials said.

The bird was a juvenile red-tailed hawk, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Chris Collibbe said. The hawk was taken to Christine’s Critters in Weston, an avian rehabilitation facility.

Environmental Conservation Police captured the hawk after it injured at least two people in separate attacks — one around 9:50 a.m. and the other around 5 p.m.

Though there are nests throughout the state, Collibbe said because of the age of the bird, it most likely was not protecting a nest. No nests were found in the direct area of the attacks — which happened in the 2200 block of East Main Street.

“It appears that the bird had some sort of neurological issues,” Collibbe said. “There’s potential that it could be West Nile (virus).”

But the DEEP wouldn’t do that testing to confirm it, Collibee said; that’s something the Department of Public Health would follow up on and do testing for.

“Raptors, particularly red-tailed hawks are susceptible to West Nile (virus),” he said, adding that the “inappropriate behavior” of the hawk could possibly have been triggered by the virus.

Collibbe said since West Nile-infected mosquitoes have been found in Bridgeport and some nearby towns it wouldn’t be unheard of for this hawk to have been infected.

Earlier this year, mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile were found in Bridgeport, Stratford, Stamford, Easton, Darien, New Canaan and Waterbury. An additional wave of testing found more West Nile-infected mosquitoes in Greenwich, Weston, New Haven, West Haven, Bethany, Franklin, Madison and Waterford.

There have been 134 human cases of West Nile virus in Connecticut since 2000. No human cases of West Nile infection have been reported in the state this season.

If anyone sees a bird attacking people — whether it is because of a nest or otherwise — they should contact local law enforcement, Collibbe said. Local law enforcement will either handle the situation or call in other agencies to assist.

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