Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stop, Hawk-Thief!

According to this AP article, people are apparently stealing hawks -- one hawk in particular, twice! -- in Illinois. I guess the zoo never figured that the same hawk would get stolen twice! (Note the zoo director's first name; he *must* be a raptor guy!)


Man arrested for freeing hawk raised in captivity

The Associated Press
Published October 13, 2005, 3:12 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- A man who felt sorry for a caged hawk stole the bird and set it loose, although the bird was raised in captivity and may not be able to survive in the wild, police said.

The red-tailed hawk named "Mani" had lived at Springfield's Henson Robinson Zoo for 25 years.

"I can sympathize with the fact that he didn't like seeing the bird caged, but ... all of us who work out at the zoo (are) very worried for the bird," said zoo director Talon Thornton.

Zoo officials discovered Mani had been stolen on Oct. 6.

Glenarm resident Sean J. Coleman, 19, was arrested Wednesday after police got a Crime Stopper tip about the missing hawk. He was released and could face charges of theft, burglary and trespassing, officials said Thursday.

Coleman allegedly took Mani about 3 a.m., drove him a few miles out of town and set him loose. Authorities said he cut a set of leather cuffs, which would have been a distinct identifier for those looking for the bird, off Mani's legs.

Police said Coleman told them he wanted Mani "to be free and happy in a non-caged world." He felt better for himself and the bird after setting Mani loose, police said.

A public telephone listing for a Sean Coleman in Glenarm could not be found.

Zoo officials want to know specifically where Mani was released so they can more effectively search for him. But Thornton said Coleman and a companion who was with him at the bird's release do not remember exactly where they were. The friend was not arrested.

This is the second time Mani has been stolen from the zoo. In 1998, someone broke into the facility, took him and tried to sell him.

"We use Mani in educational programs all over the state," Thornton said. "He is very much in the public eye. ... I think that's one of the things that has made Mani a target."

Zoo buildings have entry alarms, but the birds of prey are kept in an outdoor enclosure with no alarm. The thief had to break through two locks to reach Mani.

Thornton said zoo officials plan to make some changes in security.

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