On Tuesday evening April 9, the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey Raptor Technician Beth Lott received a call from one of the Center’s Senior Volunteers in Volusia County: “An eagle needs help on Interstate 4, can you help?” Not something we ever like to hear.
The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey is dedicated to the rescue, medical care, and treatment, rehabilitation and release for Florida’s birds of Prey. Each year, the team sees more than 600 patients come through the Raptor Trauma Clinic. Approximately 10% are Bald Eagles, however the past two years have increased that average. For 2013, the Center has admitted 48 Bald Eagles (total for 2012 was 65). Twelve Bald Eagles have been returned to the wild, four of which were fledges from this season, along with the pre-fledge eaglet from Merritt Island NWR.
We depend on volunteers, wildlife officers, and concerned citizens to get these birds help. Birds of prey are dangerous to rescue, however many dedicated individuals call the Center for guidance on getting these birds to our facility. The leading injuries include vehicle strikes, electrocutions, falls from nests, and territory fights. Our team works hard to treat each patient with the goal of getting them back into the wild.
Sam Little, the Center’s Raptor Veterinary Technician, traveled after work hours to help rescue the eagle on I-4, which we found out had been hit by a car. When she arrived, a concerned citizen and wildlife officer were at the scene. Audubon staff then met back at Center for Birds of Prey to evaluate the bird.
Part of our work includes placing non-releasable birds of prey (including Bald Eagles) in other properly licensed facilities to be used as education ambassadors. Audubon is committed to providing a good quality of life for these birds. While our team has had incredible results over the years, medical treatment and rehabilitation do not always work. In this unfortunate case, the Bald Eagle’s injuries were too severe to deem it a candidate for an education bird. Sadly, the majestic bird had to put down.
Through the dedication of staff, volunteers, wildlife officers, and the public, hundreds of birds of prey are saved and released back into the wild each year. Through education, conservation and preservation of important habitats Floridians are lucky to be able to see these magnificent species soaring above many of Florida’s special places.
Thank you to our remarkable staff and dedicated volunteers for your support. We owe our success to you.
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