Falcon survives shotgun wound

07:01, Jun 23 2014
X-ray of falcon with shotgun pellets in body
SHOT: An x-ray showed how close the pellet came to the falcon's heart.

A New Zealand falcon has survived a shotgun wound just 5mm from its heart, Massey University’s Wildbase wildlife hospital says. 

The adult falcon, also known as karearea, was found motionless on the ground in Feilding on 14 June, and taken to the SPCA who gave it the Department of Conservation. 

Wildbase veterinarian Rebecca Webster said the bird was x-rayed for a head injury when the pellets were spotted, one lodged 5mm from the heart and another in the left leg. 

Falcon recovering from shotgun wounds
RECOVERING: The falcon could take several weeks to recover from the ordeal.

“I’m not sure how he survived it. I’m very surprised that the bones aren’t broken. Usually we would get big open wounds, infections and the bird slowly dying in the bush, so he’s been very lucky,” Webster said.

Vets do not plan to remove the pellets because they are not causing any harm at the moment. The main concern is head trauma and a damaged eye. 

“One of the pupils is not responsive and it looks like the retina is actually detached a little bit, which means he might not have 100 per cent vision and obviously they need their vision to be able to hunt,” Webster said.

The falcon is on medication to ease brain swelling and is expected to take several weeks to recover.

Karearea, which feature on the $20 note, are found throughout the country but classed as nationally vulnerable.