At Ironside Bird Rescue, Susan Ahalt has seen a lot. Birds electrocuted, hit by cars, injured by other animals.
But what pains her the most is when she gets a call that a bird has been deliberately hurt by a person.
For the last 34 years, Ahalt has run the only bird rescue operation in the state of Wyoming that accepts all birds and small mammals, not just raptors.
Last week, Ahalt received a call about a crow with a broken wing in Thermopolis — and Susan said she was disappointed when it was determined that the bird had been shot.
“There are two bones between your wrist and your elbow. It destroyed the bone right in the middle and his left wrist,” she explained. “So I couldn’t save the wing, and I did humanely euthanize him.”
But that wasn’t the end of the story.
“And then two days later, I was brought an adult male red-tail hawk from Thermopolis — from within a block of where that crow came from,” Ahalt said. “And when I took him in to get him X-rayed, he has an air pistol pellet in his shoulder.”
Ahalt has been the Bighorn Basin’s “Bird Lady” for almost 35 years. She has devoted her life to taking care of injured birds of all breeds. And she said that while these types of deliberate human-inflicted injuries don’t happen very often, she has the full support of local sheriff’s departments and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department when they do occur.
“We have the best Game and Fish people in the world in this state,” Ahalt said. “The guys in Sheridan will drive and meet me halfway. They’ll meet me in Shell, they’ll meet me at Observation Point, they’ll drive them all the way here.”
In the case of the crow and the hawk that were shot in Thermopolis, Ahalt said the word is out and officials hope to catch whoever is shooting innocent birds.
“This has been reported to the Game and Fish, has been reported to the cops, and anybody who has seen my Facebook page, or the Hot Springs County’s, are all going to be on the lookout for somebody,” she said.