Attendance at Miami University football is generally abysmal, and ASG came together with Hueston Woods with the solution—a bird. More specifically, a real, live red-tailed hawk. Or, colloquially: a redhawk.

At the ASG session on November 11, the student senate voted to approve resolution 021572, “A Resolution in Support of a Live Mascot Partnership Between Hueston Woods State Park and
Miami University.”

The legislation—co-authored by Gaby Meissner and Cole Hankins—states that Hueston Woods will bring a red-tailed hawk to select varsity sporting events, including football and hockey games. The park’s naturalist, Shawn Conner, has agreed to tend to the hawk during the events. There will be no extra cost to the university for this service. In exchange, ASG will sponsor fundraising and awareness events for Hueston Woods.

The hawk, named Colonel, has been at the rehabilitation center at Hueston Woods for nine years. The goal of the rehabilitation center is to return injured animals to wild, but that’s not always possible. In those cases, the animal may stay permanently, as is the case with this hawk.

“I understand that some people don’t like seeing animals in cages, but all of our animals are here because they are unable to survive on their own in the wild,” Conner said. “Our goal is to return injured wildlife to the wild. Unfortunately, we are not always able to do that.”

Nested in the bill, the authors mention several notable schools that have used live mascots at sporting events. The U.S. Naval Academy, Temple University, the University of North Carolina and Yale University topped the list, but the full list is much longer.

In response to the prevalence of non-human mascots, PETA has condemned this activity as a foul violation of animal rights. Two senators—Max Leveridge and Max Mellott—both raised similar concerns, especially about the stress on a wild animal in a crowded venue.

“Even though this is a great idea in theory, I wonder about all the things that aren’t so great about it,” Mellott said. “The things that could go wrong.”

Conner was certain that Colonel will be unruffled by the crowds.

“Most of my birds, I would not bring to a sporting event like this because they don’t have the temperament to handle it,” Conner said. “She has been to thousands of school programs, community events, state fairs, county fairs and park programs.  She does very well in large crowds.”

Despite the arguments against, the majority of ASG flocked to the legislation. The bill passed with only three senators in opposition. You can expect to see Colonel at the remaining football and hockey games. Conner has one request about Colonel, though: give her some space.

“We can’t pet her because that is very stressful for her,” Conner said, “but people can take pictures with her so long as they don’t get too close.”