28 October 2013

Coot Shooting at Carter Lake

Email sent October 28, 2013 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the chief of police of the City of Carter Lake.

This is to report an illegal shooting of a protected migratory bird at Carter Lake. I am asking that proper enforcement action be taken to find the culprit and to ensure this does not occur again. And to make certain that public safety is not threatened at Levi Carter Park.

The shooting of an American Coot occurred Sunday, October 27th at about 11 a.m. During a morning bird survey, while counting waterfowl from the south side of the lake from a public place within the confines of the City of Carter Lake, I noticed an American Coot acting odd in the water. Watching it through a spotting scope, it was seen struggling for some reason. It could not fly.

Suddenly the other fowl moved away towards the north as if trying to escape from a threat. Continuing to watch closely, there were two splashes into the water nearby the coot, apparently from some shot projectile. There was no report heard. It could not have been a pellet gun, as the pellets would not have been of a size sufficient to penetrate the birds' feathers, nor to cause the splashes observed.

Looking at the houses just to the south of where the coot about a football field's distance, there was no one observed during two or three close looks.

The coot was struck at least two more times and killed. Its carcass remained floating on the lake water.

This event occurred directly south of Levi Carter Park, so it is likely that if a bullet errantly bounced off the water, it could end up within the City of Omaha park. This would be an obvious hazard to people along the lake shore, such as anyone fishing or bird watching.

A closer drive-by look was done at the houses where the shots originated, but no firearm activity was observed. The few houses where the shot appeared to originate are at the lake shore, at 6th Avenue or 7th Avenue in the City of Carter Lake.

An attempt to report this activity to the CLake police was not successful as there was no one at the agency headquarters, immediately after leaving the scene and bicycling to city hall.