Live with Belle the Harris Hawk | How the Rabbit Disease can affect wildlife and her hunting

Martin & Belle will host a livestream on Friday July 3rd at 7pm Utah time.

This livestream will cover the topic of the Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease:
– The origins of the disease
– The spread of the disease – where and how
– Domestic rabbits vs Wild Rabbits
– How does it go from domestic to wild?
– Native Species vs Exotics/domestics

– How does it affect Pet Owners?
– How does it affect Farmers?
– How does it affect vets/rehabbers?
– How does it affect wildlife?
– How does it affect Falconers?
– How does it affect Belle?

– Some possible scenarios of how there can be broader effects seasonally and long term
– Some possible scenarios of how effects can branch out and affect many species and regions.

– What can people do?
– What can be done to stop the spread?

Information about this disease from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources:

What is rabbit hemorrhagic disease, and how does it impact rabbits?

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease serotype 2 (RHDV-2) is classified as a foreign animal disease in the U.S. RHDV-2 is not related to the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Both domestic and wild rabbits, as well as pikas, are susceptible to the disease, and infection results in 80–100% mortality.

Rabbits may become sick one to five days after exposure and have symptoms of fever, lethargy, a lack of appetite, difficulty breathing and frothy blood coming from their nose just prior to death. The virus causes liver inflammation that prevents blood from clotting and eventually the rabbit dies from internal hemorrhage (bleeding). There is no treatment for RHDV-2.
How is the disease spread?

The virus can survive for months in the environment, and rabbits can be infected by direct contact to sick rabbits or through contact with the urine or feces of sick rabbits or through contact with feces from predators that have eaten infected rabbits. Rabbits can also be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or items (including the boots and clothing of people who have been in contact with the disease).
When was the disease confirmed in rabbits in Utah?

First identified in domestic rabbits in Europe, the disease has been detected in multiple southwestern states and northern Mexico in early 2020. On June 22, 2020, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food confirmed that a private farm with domestic rabbits in Sanpete County had rabbits that tested positive for the disease.
How can you tell if a rabbit has the disease?

Infected wild rabbits may be lethargic and not flee when approached. Prior to death, they may have bloody discharge coming out of their nose.
Can it spread to people?

No, people are not susceptible to RHDV-2. However, humans can carry the virus from one location to the other on clothing, contaminated items and boots.
Can it spread to my dog?

No, dogs and other animals are not susceptible to RHDV-2. However, similarly to people, dogs could carry the disease from one place to another.
What should I do if I find a dead rabbit in the wild?

If you see multiple dead rabbits in an area, please contact the nearest Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office and wildlife officials will determine whether the animals should be sent in for testing. Always wear disposable gloves when handling a dead animal, and wash your hands thoroughly after. Rabbit carcasses that are not fresh enough to be tested should be double bagged and disposed of by deep burial or landfill.
What should I do if I suspect my pet rabbits have the disease?

Prevent contact between your domestic rabbits and any wild rabbits. If you think your pet rabbit has the disease, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Could a cottontail or snowshoe rabbit that I harvest during a hunt have the disease?

The disease is highly infectious and causes rapid death, so if the rabbit you harvested seemed to act normally at the time of the hunt, it is unlikely that it has the disease. However, if you notice any discoloration or hemorrhages on internal organs after harvesting the rabbit or if you see anything that may appear abnormal or a cause for concern, please contact your local DWR office.

Additional Resources

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Utah Department of Agricultural and Food

Iowa University Fact Sheet

USDA Fact Sheet

USDA Extended Information

Utah Guide for Falconers

Utah Guide for Rehabbers

AVMA: Virus killing rabbits in Western US

Map of affected counties

This Young Kestrel Falcon needs no help

On June 21st, Martin was called out to check on a young Kestrel Falcon in a person’s yard. Upon arrival, Martin saw the nest nearby. Based on the size and age of the Kestrel, Martin knew the parents were still around to care for the young one. In this case, the Kestrel was in no danger and knowing he was all right, the home owner’s were happy to share their home and leave him be.
For more information about helping wild birds, please visit here.

Eagle & Two Falcons Set F R E E!

On June 14th three birds were ready to return to the wild. Susan and Martin packed up a Golden Eagle and two Peregrine Falcons. With the Subaru well loaded, they headed up the C-Overlook to release the birds back to the wild. Though he can’t be sure, Martin thinks it is possible the two Peregrines are mates and nest near the Cedar Canyon Nature Park.

Though this release could not be promoted, Susan and Martin were joined by a few family and friends. One of our volunteers, KayAnne, released the first Peregrine and Susan & Martin’s daughter, Vicki, released the second one.

The Golden Eagle was released by a Eagle Scout, Nate. Martin had been scheduled to bring Scout the Golden Eagle to Nate’s Eagle Court of honor, however it had to be cancelled. Purely by chance, Nate was up the C-Overlook when the birds were released.

Martin Tyner, founder of the Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah, is a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator, educator, propagator, and master falconer with over 50 years of experience.

Music on this channel has been donated by Casey.
Tracks: Misty Moon, Another Me
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How to Help Birds & Other Critters | Q & A with Martin Tyner

Martin answers many frequently asked questions!
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00:00 – What is your busiest time?
01:47 – I found a bird, how do I care for it?
03:01 – What animals are “wildlife”?
07:12 – Why is it illegal to release a Ringneck Dove?
08:18 – Why do smaller animals have to die to save larger ones?
11:32 – What is life like for Helen?
12:51 – What can I do to save animals?
17:09 – Is it too late to return animals taken away?
18:13 – What is “imprinting”?
20:58 – Is wildlife instantly imprinted from any human contact?
22:44 – Do you often see the best of intentions end poorly?
25:58 – Do you have any advice about finding wildlife information online?
27:53 – Is there any accountability for wildlife misinformation online?
29:06 – Can I learn to care for wildlife from watching videos?
30:31 – The volunteer critter webgeek has edited and seen all your video repeatedly, is she qualified to work with wild animals?
33:00 – Does experience with one animal transfer over to another that is similar?
36:27 – What are some examples when animals to need help?
38:48 – Do you run into legal issues regarding wildlife care?
41:29 – Should wildlife go to veterinarians?
42:56 – What is there is no local help?
44:44 – Why doesn’t Susan work with the bigger critters?
46:11 – Why does it make Susan nervous when you work with big raptors?
47:29 – How long would a volunteer have to work with you before handling songbirds?
48:26 – How long would a volunteer have to work with you before handling raptors?
49:53 – How long would a volunteer have to work with you before handling the Wildlife Ambassadors?
51:06 – How long would a volunteer have to work with you before handling Scout the Golden Eagle?
51:50 – Did Scout choose to work with you?
53:09 – What about for releases & hawking guests?
55:37 – How do I contact help is there is an animal emergency?

The $12,444 Hawk Release!

We were joined by Dave Gourley of Findlay Subaru of St. George for the release of this Red Tail Hawk. Dave presented a check to Martin. It was a very large donation from all the funds they raised during their Subaru Share The Love Event. This year the check was for $12,444! THANK YOU Dave & Findlay Subaru & Subaru!

This video also includes a tour of our Wildlife Chambers and a visit in with all the current Wildlife Ambassadors and many of the birds currently in rehab including the white belly Bald Eagle, a Golden Eagle, a Peregrine Falcon, and two Red Tail Hawks.

We hope you will also enjoy a few excerpts from the road on the way up to the C-Overlook where the hawk was released.

:35 – 1:50 Getting our Subaru Forrester ready for the Red Tail Hawk
2:00 – 5:55 Tour of the Wildlife Chambers
5:55 – 13:00 Getting the Red Tail Hawk from her chamber
13:00 – 16:30 Drive up to C-Overlook
16:30 – 18:00 Dave presents check to Martin
18:00 – 22:00 Martin takes the Red Tail out for release
22:00 – Red Tail Hawk Released Back to the Wild!

Channel Musician
Music on this channel has been donated by Casey.
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The Psychology of Falconry

In response to many questions he receives from falconers, Martin sat down with Helen the Peregrine Falcon to provide an overview to some of the most common questions he receives. Underlining all training aspects is an understanding of the psychology of falconry and what motivates apex predators. They are extremely intelligent and opportunistic. Martin explains how understanding this, and working with this, is the key to mutually respectful and enjoyable relationship. As Martin has said many times before about Harris Hawk Belle, “She is the hunter and I am her dog.”

For more about Falconry, please visit the playlists below:

Belle the Harris Hawk First Season Videos

Belle the Harris Hawk Second Season Videos

Piper the Prairie Falcon Early Training

New Arrivals & Bald Eagle Update

An update on the most recent arrivals to the rescue center beginning on April 29th with five very young birds. On May 9th a Golden Eagle arrived. Three baby Quail and an Inca Dove arrived on May 12th. The next day a Great Horned Owl arrived.

During our last livestream, Martin provided an update on the White Belly Bald Eagle which we’ve also included at the end of this video.

More about the White Belly Bald Eagle.