A Calgary mailman has taken to arming himself with a tennis racket in an attempt to ward off attacks from hawks circling overhead.
Rick Tobin, a superintendent at Calgary's northwest Canada Post facility, uses a black Prince Torch racket -- his weapon of choice -- to fend off territorial birds that plague the Lake Bonavista community in late summer each year, reports the Calgary Herald.
According to the National Post, an aggressive mother hawk in the area has made her nest high up in a tree for the past three years, and once her chicks hatch it's game-on for attacks on postal workers.
"I’ve been delivering the mail during this situation because I’m comfortable with it," Tobin explained to the National Post, adding two carriers now work the route on opposite sides of the street -- one to deliver the mail and one to act as spotter for avian attacks from above.
"If the bird starts swooping, and we feel it’s unsafe at that point in time, we stop our delivery and bring the mail back to the facility."
The northwest hawk, however, is not the only raptor causing problems on Calgary routes.
According to the Herald, Canada Post suspended delivery near Lake Newell Crescent S.E. this month, after a letter carrier was dive bombed repeatedly.
Tobin carries the racket not to hit the bird, he told the National Post, but rather to confuse it.
"It goes for your high point. It would hit my tennis racket before it hit me."
He was using a baseball bat, but neighbours didn't like the look of it, so he switched to the racket, he explained to the Herald.
Mail carriers in Winnipeg faced similar issues last year, when angry birds continually swooped at a mail carrier in the Transcona neighbourhood.
"It's not a normal hazard our carriers face everyday," Steven Keown, with Canada Post in Winnipeg, told CBC News last year.
Animal attacks on postal workers aren't anything new, although postal carriers are most often the target of dogs. In 2011, reports Global News, 554 animal interactions were recorded by Canada Post and in 2012 carriers faced 598 attacks.
After Ontario, Alberta racked up the most attacks on postal workers, with 119 incidents in 2012.
Tobin told the National Post that mail carriers in Alberta are getting creative in their aerial attack defence.
Last year one woman took to wearing a bike helmet while delivering letters, and several workers have tried ditching their hats and mail bags -- items Tobin feels the hawks have come to recognize and target.
Fish and Wildlife officials have also told residents in Lake Bonavista to try wearing sunglasses on the back of their head when passing the nest and have advised construction workers in the area to paint eyes on the back of their hardhats, reports the Calgary Herald.
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