RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Turkey may be the main bird on people’s minds on a typical Thanksgiving, but the Richmond Wildlife Center is asking for the community to turn their attention towards a different type of bird this year.

On Wednesday, Nov. 23, the state’s biologist received a call from a citizen who spotted a hawk with an arrow protruding from its body along Old Gun and Cherokee Roads. The hawk took off before representatives from the local wildlife center could make the rescue. Melissa Stanley with the Richmond Wildlife Center emphasized the importance of finding the bird — and the arrow.

“The last person to touch that arrow was the person who loaded the bow,” Stanley said.

Hawks are protected in the United States under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means harming one of these birds is a crime. Local law enforcement are aware the arrow is still out there somewhere. It could be the key to finding the culprit.

“They can dust it for fingerprints and potentially find out who’s responsible for this,” Stanley said.

If caught, the person responsible could face up to a $15,000 fine and six months in jail. Stanley explained how this case largely encompasses elements of animal cruelty as well. With the weapon lodged in its body, the hawk can’t fly properly and is likely in great deal of pain.

“It’s going to eventually become emaciated either from infection or the inability to appropriately hunt,” Stanley said.

Therefore, the clock is ticking. The center urges the community to help search for the animal and arrow — but not to touch either.

“We want to help this bird,” Stanley said. “We need every wild animal in our ecosystem to be out there to continue on the populations. We’re impacting our environment every day with development every hawk we can help is great every wild animal we can help is important.”

Contact information for the Richmond Wildlife Center can be found online. Reach out to the Wildlife Crime Hotline at 1-800-237-5712 if you have any information about the crime.