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Well-Known Hawk Rehabilitator Threatened With Shutdown

By Leslie Albrecht | April 5, 2013 6:54pm | Updated on April 8, 2013 7:43am

NEW YORK CITY — Authorities are trying to clip the wings of one of New York's best-known wild hawk rescuers.

Wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horvath, who rescues injured raptors and other creatures that run into trouble in the wilds of the city, is being threatened with closure by town officials in Oyster Bay, Long Island, after they said he ran afoul of local laws by keeping "dangerous animals" in a residential area.

They've given Horvath two weeks to remove his menagerie from his North Massapequa home, which falls under Oyster Bay's jurisdiction.

Horvath and his wife Cathy, who run the nonprofit Wildlife In Need of Rescue & Rehabilitation out of their home, have helped countless rescued and injured wild animals found in NYC.

In 2011, Bobby Horvath helped a widowed mama hawk in Riverside Park feed her babies after she lost her mate to rat poison. The couple nurse sick animals back to health, then release them into the wild. Horvath also sometimes works with the New York City Parks Department to teach children about exotic animals.

But his exploits don't fly in residential Long Island.

Horvath's collection of animal patients is a violation of local laws, which prohibit dangerous animals in residential areas, Oyster Bay town spokeswoman Marta Kane said.

"While the town recognizes that what he's doing is a good service, unfortunately what he's doing violates town code," Kane said.

Officials investigated Horvath's home-based facility after "several complaints" from local residents, Kane said. Code enforcement officers issued a summons after they found hawks, turkeys and a bobcat, which are all considered dangerous, Kane said.

Horvath said he holds both state and federal licenses for his animal rescue activities.

"We're state and federally licensed and that's what they're not acknowledging," Horvath said of town officials.

The modern-day Dr. Doolittle said he's hoping to negotiate with authorities.

"We're hoping for a good outcome," Horvath said.