Joe Kosakowski, a regional director of the North American Falconers Association, said that Aurora would be considered old, as falcons can have life spans up to about 25 years. Some angrily posted on Facebook and Twitter that if West Point cadets were responsible, they should be expelled, or that West Point should be held accountable. The cadets turned the birds in on Saturday morning, but not before Aurora suffered abrasions that bloodied her wings, likely when she was thrashing inside the crate, Mr. Dollar said. Oblio did not sustain any obvious injuries. Air Force Mascot, a Falcon, Is Injured by West Point Cadets During Prank. Military Academy sincerely apologizes for an incident involving U.S.M.A. “I think they had them for a couple hours and then they realized it was a bad mistake,” Mr. Dollar said. Troy Garnhart, associate athletic director for strategic communications at the Air Force Academy, said he did not know where and how Aurora was discovered to be injured. Two West Point cadets took Aurora and another Air Force falcon, threw sweaters over them and stuffed them into dog crates, the school's falconry team adviser told The New York Times last year. But Mr. Dollar said falcons require special care and their handling is tightly regulated by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, among other agencies. The Air Force Academy's first live mascot in October 1955 was a peregrine falcon named Mach 1. They threw sweaters over the birds, and later stuffed them into dog crates, Mr. Dollar said. The Army has said they are looking into the soldier’s actions for potential safety violations. White phase gyrfalcons can live to be 25 years old in captivity, according to the Teton Raptor Center. Army and Navy have a long tradition of stealing each other's mascots ahead of games, but no one had previously been able to take an Air Force falcon. pic.twitter.com/1vXxSXpaGQ, "In addition to serving as an ambassador for USAFA, she was an ambassador for all falcons, helping us educate the public on the importance of these majestic birds," the Air Force said in a statement announcing Aurora's death. The falcon chick was hatched in May, academy spokeswoman Maureen Welch said. In her 23 years at USAFA, she interacted with tens of thousands of people at sporting venues and military and community events. He said Aurora did not have any broken bones, and he expected her to be able to fly again. This article was written by The Associated Press from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The U.S. Air Force Academy welcomed a new mascot into its ranks and will break with tradition by allowing cadets to name the falcon. By the way, Army beat the Air Force 17 to 14 on Saturday. The bird, which made national news last year when she was abducted in a prank, was 23 years old. It is a critical time in the U.S.-India relationship. It was initially reported that the bird might need to be euthanized because of her injuries and advanced age, but Aurora's condition quickly improved and she made a full recovery within a month. "Her impact on the nearly 30 class years of cadet falconers and Falconry Team support staff cannot be overstated. Aurora was the Academy's longest serving live mascot. Aurora’s all-white coloring is rare, occurring in only 1 percent of gyrfalcons, according to a 2011 news release from the Air Force Academy. The falcon was chosen in a belief the bird best characterized the combat role of the Air Force, the academy said. She served as the academy's mascot for more than two decades. The team mascot is "Mach 1" name of the first falcon presented to the academy on Oct 5, 1955, however each performing falcon is given an individual name by its cadet falconer. The conflict has largely taken place out of public view, with journalists and outside observers barred from the area. AP Top 25 college football poll reaction: What's next for each ranked team? The crash came less than a week after the Navy closed out the fiscal year without a single aviation-related fatality. Mr. Kosakowski said that falcons’ wings, while flexible, have hollow bones, and that wings could be injured “incidentally if somebody doesn’t know how to handle a bird.”. Lt. Col. Chevelle Thomas, a West Point spokeswoman, said on Sunday that the “U.S. © Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. 3, McKinstry gives Alabama its sixth top-50 recruit. A motley group of cowboys, Mexican-Americans and American Indians fought their way across Europe. Falcons were chosen as the Air Force Academy’s mascot in 1955, and Aurora is the oldest of 10 in the falconry program, Mr. Dollar said, noting, “She’s an old lady of the group.”. In 1991, after midshipmen raided a West Point veterinary clinic, took four Army mules and were chased by helicopters, the two academies signed a pact exempting mascots from their pranks. Two senators say the new Army Combat Fitness Test sets unrealistic standards for some soldiers. (1/3) We are deeply saddened to announce that Aurora died earlier today. Defensive Dabo: Am I at right press conference? Mr. Dollar said he wanted to debunk news circulating that Aurora’s injuries were life-threatening or that she might have to be euthanized. The Air Force cadets who work with the birds spend two months in training and are tested before they can handle them. “When Aurora started thrashing around in the crate, they decided that wasn’t a good thing.”.