ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Dr. Jack McIntosh said he was inside his Altamonte Springs business Friday afternoon when one of his patients came running back in to alert him of what he called a mutilated red-tailed hawk.
"To see something like that happen to a beautiful creature, it's unnerving," McIntosh said. "It really is. One of my patients went to leave and came back in and said there was a dead, mutilated bird in the parking lot."
McIntosh said another business in the plaza has surveillance cameras, and he asked to see the footage. That led them to a blue Mazda.
"At one point, you can see the door open, or what appeared to be the door opening," he said. "But we never saw him get out of the car."
The car sat in the parking space for several minutes before pulling up through the space and revealing the bird's body on the ground. Then it parked in another space nearby and waited. When McIntosh and his co-workers went outside to look at the bird, the car circled the parking lot twice and drove off.
"I just feel like they were trying to observe to see what was going on, which makes me feel like it was put there for a specific person or specific reason," McIntosh said.
He said a closer look at the large bird showed its head and legs had been chopped off.
"On one hand, it's kind of scary because it's almost ritualistic," McIntosh said. "On the other hand, it's very sad because it is a living creature."
Police checked with Seminole County Animal Control, but were told the bird was not protected.
McIntosh said police wrapped its body and tossed it into the dumpster.
"The bottom line is 'Why?'" McIntosh said. "And is it going to happen again?"
News 6 reached out to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to get results for the concerned business owners. Officials with the FWC said this is the first they've heard of the incident and that they're looking into it.
But they said it is a federal crime to kill a red-tailed hawk.