Can I shoot a hawk attacking my chickens?

Chickens are small and weak, because of this, there are a number of predators that prey on them. Both land and sky predators will be more than happy to attack a chicken. Hawks are birds of prey that attack chickens. You may be wondering “Can I shoot a hawk attacking my chickens?” this article looks into it.

You cannot shoot hawks that attack your chickens without receiving a fine or some jail time. The only instance where you would be able to shoot a hawk is if you have a permit, however, there are rules around shooting hawks even if you have a permit

Can I shoot a hawk attacking my chickens?

Hawks are up during the day, so are chickens, because of this, hawks have access to chickens. These birds of prey may only eat one chicken at a time, but this can be devastating if you have a small flock.

Hawks kill chickens quickly and easily, they use their sharp talons to do this. Wanting to shoot hawks down to protect your chickens is understandable as it will quickly stop this from happening, but unfortunately, you cannot shoot a hawk attacking your chickens

A variety of birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty act of 1918, hawks are also protected in this act, this means that you cannot poison, trap, hunt, kill, cage or shoot these birds, even if they are attacking your chickens.

If you harm these birds in any way, you run the risk of getting a heavy fine or even being imprisoned

The only way around this act is if you can get a permit (a federal migratory bird depredation permit), from wildlife services.

Even if you do have this permit, it only applies in a handful of scenarios that have to do with the health and safety of the public, a loss of protected wildlife private property, or if the birds become a risk to human health and safety.

These permits are also only meant to be a short-term solution while you look for a nonlethal way to deal with the hawk.

If you want to obtain this permit, you need to fill out an application form for the permit as well as pay a $100 processing fee. Once you get it, the permit is valid for only one year  

It’s not that lawmakers want to be irritating by having this law into effect, they’re simply trying to protect hawks.

Hawks play a very important role in the ecosystem, they make sure that populations of prey animals are kept at normal levels. This ensures that the prey animals do not become overpopulated and don’t get out of control.

In addition to chickens, hawks also eat squirrels, rabbits, and snakes.

Will a hawk keep coming back for chickens? 

If you don’t find a way to get rid of a hawk it will definitely come back for your chickens.

These birds of prey are opportunistic hunters, they will eat anything that they can and they will go far and wide looking for foods in ponds, in the woods on farms, or on the roadside.

Once they find a source of food, that is constant and is easy to prey on, they will keep coming back to eat. They will eat your chickens one by one.

They also enjoy that chickens are easy targets. If chickens are out and about foraging in the open air with no protection, hawks will certainly swoop in to pick one up and then drag it off to a secret place to eat.

How do you know if a hawk killed your chicken? 

One key indication that a hawk is the animal that killed your chicken is if your chicken suddenly disappears without a trace.

Hawks can easily pick up a chicken and take it away to be eaten elsewhere. If hawks are attacking your chicken flock, then you’ll see no signs of struggle from the bird, it will simply disappear.

What can I do if a hawk is killing my chickens? 

Get a dog:

Dogs are feared by wild animals, your canines will be able to keep an eye on your chickens and protect them.

Hawks do not want to get into altercations with dogs and will avoid your chicken coop in order to avoid the dog. Hawks will also keep away from the chickens that the dog is protecting.

Get a rooster:

Roosters can be quite aggressive birds, they are aggressive because they’re always on alert in order to protect their flock. Chickens may not be able to fend off a hawk, but roosters will do a better job at this.

Some say the best things you can do for your flock is to get a rooster 

Keep them inside:

Allowing chickens to forage outside of the coop may be beneficial to them but it is not beneficial if hawks keep swooping down to eat the birds.

To keep chickens safe, leave them in the coop, especially during the day when hawks are out and about. Just make sure that the coop has enough water, food, and space for the chickens


Scarecrows are more effective in keeping hawks away than many of us think. These ornaments keep birds away by scaring them before they can take your chickens away.

You can make one yourself or buy one. Change the position of the scarecrow to make it seem as though it’s alive

Do black chickens keep hawks away? 

Surprisingly, black chickens are very effective in keeping hawks away from your flock.

To humans, a black chicken is simply another type of chicken, but to hawks, black chickens look like crows. Crows are the natural enemies of hawks, hawks will stay away if they see crows in the area, they will also stay away if they see black chickens in the area


In conclusion, no, you cannot simply shoot a hawk if it is attacking your chickens.

You need to get a special permit to be able to shoot hawks. Hawks are protected birds.

You can protect your chickens by using scarecrows on your property, adding a black chicken to the flock, adding a rooster to the flock, and keeping chickens inside their coop.

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Chicken behavior with humans, what is normal?, What do chickens do all day? all you need to know, Do chickens like mirrors? all you need to know, Why do chickens chase you? all you need to know

Can I shoot a hawk attacking my chickens?
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