Pair of hawks attack 11 passersby on Dixie State campus

A sign marks the area closed because of a hawk that has been attacking passersby, June 12, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An area on Dixie State University’s campus is temporarily closed off due to a pair of aggressive hawks that have been attacking people walking by.

A section of Dixie State University is closed due to aggressive hawks that have been attacking passersby, June 12, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

The university closed off about one acre near the Jennings Communication Building where the hawks have reportedly attacked at least 11 people, said Sherry Ruesch, Dixie State’s executive director of facilities management.

The birds are Cooper’s hawks, which are found in all parts of the U.S. according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Cooper’s hawk is a protected species as a bird of prey.

The hawks are guarding a nest, Ruesch said, which is another reason they have asked people not to disturb the birds.

The first reported hawk attack took place on June 12. An employee informed the university that a bird had swooped down and hit his head.

One injury has been reported, a minor scratch.

The hawks have not used their talons to try to grab or seriously injure any passersby, rather they swoop down and hit people with one of their wings.

One of the hawks that has been attacking people at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Carson Harris, St. George News

Maryn Weed, a web developer and student at Dixie State, said she was hit on the head by the hawk two days in a row.

The first day she thought it was her imagination.

“The next day I went along my usual route and the same thing happened. But I actually turned around that time to see the hawk fly back around.”

The Utah Division of Wildlife Services said the hawks will probably remain aggressive for a few more weeks. They recommended that people avoid the area.

The hawks make a loud screeching sound before attacking. Wildlife Services recommends that if a hawk tries to attack you – they attack from behind – it is best to turn around and face it, which will cause them to fly away.

Ruesch sent an email to employees June 14 to inform them of the situation and tell them how to respond if a hawk attacks. She also asked people not to disturb the birds and to report any attacks so the safety area can be modified if necessary.

For the most part, the employees at Dixie State have enjoyed the hawks’ presence on campus, and even named them Dixie and Rebel, and the chicks Storm and Blaze.

“People like them and we like them, but dive-bombing, not so much,” Ruesch said.

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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15 Comments

  • Sherry June 18, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Considering that I asked you not to mention the nest or chicks, I will not be interviewed for any more articles. The safety of the campus is my priority.

    • Striker4 June 19, 2018 at 6:41 am

      It seems that she was hoping to get that Pulitzer Award LOL !

      • Real Life June 19, 2018 at 10:10 am

        If you are up at 6:41 am perhaps you could go fill out some applications and you know, GET A JOB. 😏

    • sagemoon June 19, 2018 at 8:59 am

      Why shouldn’t the chicks or nest be mentioned? I appreciate knowing why the hawks are being aggressive. It’s good to know they have a natural reason and not that they’ve been infected with some crazy disease. Seriously, that’s what happens when the public doesn’t have answers. They start speculating. I do appreciate you being concerned about the birds’ welfare. I hope people use common sense and leave them alone.

    • PatriotLiberal June 19, 2018 at 9:10 am

      The safety of the campus? Really? How exactly does telling the public why the bird are acting this way pose a danger?

    • theone June 19, 2018 at 9:52 am

      Before I even got to the part where the article says, “protecting a nest” it wasn’t hard to figure out what was going on just by the mere fact it is a (pair) of Hawks.
      Sherry your concerns are noble but unrealistic.

    • Rob83 June 19, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Sherry, perhaps it was a lack of communication. You could have contacted her directly and she could have updated the story. Most people understand aggressive behavior from normally not so aggressive wild life (not to mention this is the mating season for them) that there is probably chicks being protected. Glad to see that they are being allowed their privacy 👍

    • Anon June 19, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      I’m sorry. Let me get this straight. An employee of a higher education organization purposefully tried to manipulate the article being written? It seems to me that the hawks guarding a nest is actually a very good reason for them to be dive-bombing a passerby. It seems that if you were actually concerned for the safety of the campus, you would make the location of the hawks and their chicks general knowledge, so the students, faculty, AND guests would show the wildlife some respect and find a different route. I applaud you Mikayla for not compromising your journalistic standards and reporting the whole truth.

  • mesaman June 18, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Last known fatality by Cooper’s Hawk was on Sunday, 17 June 2018. The mouses family would like to thank all those who shared in their grief.

  • comments June 18, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    LOL @ “attacks”. not hardly

    • bikeandfish June 19, 2018 at 3:18 pm

      I have been hawked more than my share and its fair to call it an attack. When you have to wear hardhats, canvas jackets and place a clipboard over your neck to avoid injury than I think its a type of wildlife attack.

      https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/how-a-goshawk-scalped-me-8211-twice/

      Its a memorable enough experience to leave a job over. I’ve been hawked by three species of birds, and only one of them was because I was studying them. The other two happened while just hiking.

      Hawks aren’t joking around about protecting their fledglings.

      I don’t recommend the experience even though it makes for quality campfire stories.

  • asianspa June 19, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Can we get a Gofundme going for the victims of these attacks? They may have a range of trauma and PTSD that will leave them damaged for life and we as a community need to come together and support them. Is it possible to raise enough money to get each and every one of the victims one healing massage at Japan Massage?

    • Anon June 19, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Maybe a GoFundMe page for the hawks…?

  • justsaying June 19, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    I say, I say now that is an informative article!

    • Anon June 19, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      (*poof* feathers everywhere) I have them number for just such an occasion… 🙂

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