RAYTOWN, Mo. — Neighbors in one Raytown, Missouri neighborhood say it’s an act of pure meanness.

One of the red-tailed hawks that live in their neighborhood trees was shot by someone with a crossbow. It’s kept homeowners busy getting help for the bird, and hoping to find who abused the animal.

People living near 68th Terrace and Maple Avenue keep an eye on the three red-tailed hawks that nest nearby.

One of them spotted something that was amiss with one of the birds on Tuesday. Close examination showed it had a metal bolt from a handheld crossbow in its head.

“It is such animal cruelty,” Dayna McDaniel, who lives nearby, said. “You don’t hurt animals. They’re defenseless.”

McDaniel is among those who said the hawks have pulled neighbors together as friends. When they called for help on Tuesday evening, a wildlife expert came, as did the Raytown Fire Department with a ladder truck. The driver of a utilities truck with an elevated bucket came too. Nobody could trap the frightened animal until Wednesday.

“If they’re sitting there taking potshots at birds, and they’re not tame, but they’re used to this environment and nobody ever threatens them. That little guy? He’s never going to be wild again. That’s not fair,” McDaniel said.

Red-tailed hawks are protected by federal law. Anyone found guilty of killing a red tail faces a $15,000 fine and up to six months in prison.

“We have concerns with someone who would do that to a hawk. They might do that to your dog, or your cat or a person, for that matter,” Kyle Bradley, another neighbor, said.

Surgeons at Kansas City’s Lakeside Nature Center removed the bolt, but the hawk’s eye is ruined, and with no vision on one side, the hawk can’t be released to the wild. Jacque Blessington, the center’s director, said the bird was fortunate neighbors were looking out.

“He was lucky in the respect that somebody found him, and they were able to get to him before the alternative happened, which would have been a slow potentially painful death for this animal. He wouldn’t have been able to recover in the wild,” Blessington told FOX4.

The Lakeside Nature Center took in 70 injured red-tailed hawks last year, very few of whom were hurt by people. That agency plans to report this incident to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If you know who’s to blame for this, please contact Lakeside Nature Center at (816) 513-8960.