Nesting hawk attacks near Maeser and Brimhall buildings

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Signs and barricades were set up around the Maeser and Brimhall buildings to prevent nesting hawks from attacking students as they walk by. (Hannah Miner)

A student was attacked by a nesting hawk while running on campus near the Maeser and Brimhall buildings. Signs and barricades were set up around the area to prevent further nesting hawk attacks.

BYU communications student Joseph Hovey was running his usual route on campus when he noticed a flying bird. He didn’t think too much of the bird until he noticed it flying around again, but lower. He heard something from behind then felt a big thump on his head. “It scared me to death more than anything,” Hovey said.

He stopped, looked up and found a hawk perched on the tree above him. He thought “oh snap, that thing’s big,” before he took off running again, only much faster this time. As he ran away, Hovey noticed a lot of bird poop under the tree and assumed there must be a nest up there.

Hovey called campus police and was transferred to Risk Management where he reported the attack. He said Risk Management mentioned other recent reports had been made of the hawk and its nest in the tree.

Hovey said the experience was actually humbling for him and a reminder that Mother Nature is still in charge.

University Communications spoke with Paul Boekweg, BYU’s pest specialist, who said the birds are protected by federal law. During nesting season, the nests are also protected which is why BYU put up signs and barricades in the area.

Blocking off the area protects individuals walking there from the birds, and encourages people to avoid the birds so they don’t disturb the nest.

Reports of hawk attacks in the same area are not new. In 2016 several students and faculty were attacked, including two students who got scratched on their heads by the hawk. Similar attacks and area closures also occurred in 2018.

The western Marriott Center bridge is also closed because of crows nesting in the area.

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