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Photographer of Famous Red-Tailed Hawk Pale Male Arrested

By Amy Zimmer | February 28, 2012 2:44pm
An image of the famed red-tailed hawk Pale Male.
An image of the famed red-tailed hawk Pale Male.
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Lincoln Karim via Facebook/The Legend of Pale Male

MANHATTAN — An avid photographer of the red-tailed hawk Pale Male was arrested Monday night at the very spot where he had scooped up the lifeless body of the famous bird's mate, Lima.

Lincoln Karim was charged with obstruction of government administration and with illegal possession of a raptor without a permit, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said.

After being arrested Monday evening and charged with the misdemeanor and violation, he was given a desk-appearance ticket and released Tuesday morning, DEC spokesman Rodney Rivera said.

Karim was concerned that Lima may have died because of anti-coagulants from a poisoned rat, so he had taken her home and planned to bring her to the DEC's pathology lab in upstate Delmar, he wrote on his blog PaleMale.com.

He had found her body on Sunday, he wrote.

When he called the DEC Monday morning to alert the agency he had Lima, officials advised him to hand the dead hawk over to their officers, Rivera said. What followed was a four-hour "cat-and-mouse" chase, Rivera said, explaining that Karim said he would be somewhere with the bird, but then wouldn't show.

"Finally, he made a statement that he was going to return the bird to where he found it," Rivera said. "After four hours of running around the city, one of our officers arrested him."

"This could have been avoided," he added. "He gave us a runaround all day."

Lima is now with DEC officials and is expected to be transported to the pathology lab on Tuesday, Rivera said.

Karim, who was distrustful that Lima would be properly tested, wrote on his blog, "The Pathology Unit assured me that a full necropsy will be performed and toxicology tests carried out to determine whether there are any anti-coagulants or other lethal substances in Lima's body."

Pale Male achieved celebrity status in 2004 when the co-op board of a tony Fifth Avenue building tried to oust the nest he was making with his mate at the time, Lola. Karim was arrested amid that fight, which spawned protests from bird lovers, for allegedly harassing one of the co-op's residents, news anchor Paula Zahn.

Pale Male, who was spotted mating with Lima four times the day before her death, has already found a new mate for breeding season.