ANCHORAGE (AP) Alaska Pacific University officials are asking people to stay away from a stretch of woods claimed by two aggressive Northern goshawks.
The birds are staking the campus turf, swooping down on passing joggers.
The university wants people to stay away until nesting season ends later in the summer.
At least two trail users have reported attacks since last weekend, and APU staffers sent out a warning on campus e-mail.
Goshawks are forest-dwelling hawks with short rounded wings and long tails that give them stunning acceleration and maneuverability to chase down prey such as snowshoe hares and birds in dense woods.
These two birds almost certainly have eggs in a nest nearby and are behaving naturally, said Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Rick Sinnott. They will continue to be aggressive until the chicks hatch and learn to fly in midsummer.
It's just a very vigorous nest defense,'' he told the Anchorage Daily News. If you get too close to that nest, they're going to come after you. They do the same thing with moose and everything else.''
The pair has apparently nested near the same wooded hill where another female goshawk used to harass humans until the bird was put down by a veterinarian in 1999.
Between 1997 and 1999, the two-pound raptor raked a dozen people with its talons. Though APU officials asked people to stay away, the bird was found in June 1999 on the ground with a broken wing that appeared to have been shattered by a stick. Three chicks less than three weeks old were later removed from the nest and raised by local falconers.
This time, the university will put up signs and barricades, effectively closing part of the trail, APU environmental science associate professor Carl Tobin.
Sinnott said he hopes that people will leave the birds this space to raise their young.
I think we can live with goshawks. They're such neat creatures,'' he said. And they're not deadly to people. (Though) you might get scratched up if you venture in there badly scratched up.''
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