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Pueblo Raptor Center works to keep up with growing demand for raptor rehab

Posted: 8:23 PM, Mar 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-29 14:02:54-04

(CITY OF PUEBLO) – In Pueblo there’s a group working to pull you away from your phone using sights, sounds and birds of prey.

“We live in a society that is becoming increasingly divested from nature. And this is a place where you can come and commune with nature,” commented Rich Walker, a volunteer.

The Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo has promoted environmental stewardship as well as rehabilitation of and education regarding birds of prey since the early 1980s. Each year the non-profit takes in hundreds of injured raptors.

“We take in about 300 birds of prey each year,” stated Diane Smith, with the Raptor Center.

These are birds are unable to survive without aid from a third party, “Half of those birds are able to return to the wild, and that, of course, is the best thing that can happen to them,” Smith continued.

“Unless you just have the darkest heart, it inspires you and makes you a better person,” added Walker.

Another 49 percent of the birds that come in unfortunately don’t survive, sustaining injuries that prove fatal.

“And then there’s [the] sort of bird, like [this golden eagle], who survive what has happened to them,” and then are utilized as educational ambassadors.

This practice allows these feathered professors to teach more than 8,000 students each year about bird biology and their importance in the wild.

You can see [the students’] eyes light up and they connect, and that’s also something very special,” said Walker.

However, the raptor center is facing some difficulties after the closure of the Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

“So we’ve seen since last year, the number of birds we’re getting at the raptor center going up,” stated Jonathan Pilarski, executive director at the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center.

Staff indicates that in the 2017 season, the raptor center took in 75 more birds than it does in a typical year, “And that’s costing us a lot more money than perhaps we’ve had in the past, because we have a lot more birds,” Pilarski continued.

However, the NRCP has just finished a merger with the Mountain Park Environmental Center, a like minded organization based out of Beulah. The two groups are now calling themselves the Nature & Wildlife Discovery Center.

The organization expects merger to free up money for various programs including aiding the rehab and education programs at the raptor center.

“So we’re looking forward to the next few years, to see the different directions this organization is going to take,” finished Pilarski.


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