PROVINCETOWN — Police Officer Thomas Radzik was parked at the CVS on Oct. 17 when a man — Brandon Czyoski, 39, of Truro — asked him for help.
Czyoski said he had been hunting in the National Seashore when he found an injured bird. Could Radzik summon Animal Control Officer RuthAnne Cowing to the scene? And, in the meantime, could Radzik lend a hand?
As Czyoski spoke, he led the officer to his truck, the rear door of which he opened to reveal a bird (“small,” wrote Radzik in his report, “and hawk-like”) swaddled in a sweatshirt. Radzik, though, was less interested in the ailing avian than in the creature’s backseat neighbor: a 12-gauge shotgun with a trigger lock.
Radzik asked Czyoski to produce his License to Carry (LTC) or Firearms Identification Card (FID). Czyoski couldn’t; he said he’d left the license at home. A database check revealed that Czyoski’s Truro-based LTC had in fact expired last November — which meant both the shotgun (which was unloaded and not in a locked case) and the six red Birdshot shells in Czyoski’s truck rendered him afoul of the law.
Czyoski’s father, Michael, who held an active firearms license, took possession of the shotgun and ammunition, and Radzik got down to business. On his recommendation, prosecutors charged Czyoski with possession of ammunition without an FID and improper storing of a firearm, both misdemeanors, as well as carrying a firearm without a license — a felony punishable by a maximum prison sentence of two years, or a $500 fine.
Czyoski was arraigned on those three charges on Nov. 30 in Orleans District Court before Judge Robert Welsh III and released on personal recognizance. He’ll next appear on Dec. 30 at 9 a.m. for a hearing.
The bird fared less well. It was a juvenile merlin — a small, fierce falcon common in the Northeast — that Officer Cowing transported to Eastham’s Wild Care animal shelter for X-rays and preliminary care. The merlin weighed just 167 grams — less than six ounces — and had been shot through the wing (not by Czyoski, Cowing said); the injury left its upper-wing bone, or humerus, exposed.
The bird was transported to Barnstable’s Cape Wildlife Center to repair its open fracture. The procedure went well, said Cape Wildlife’s Seth Andrews, but the bird’s condition plummeted on its fifth day of recovery. Cape Wildlife personnel had to make what Cowing called the “more humane” decision; on Oct. 24, the merlin was euthanized.
Concerned about the falcon’s well-being, Czyoski stayed in regular touch with Cowing before its death, she said.
“It was very sad,” she said. “Very adorable bird. Very sad.”