Raptor Center given $10,000 for new clinic

Nonprofit still far away from $500,000 needed to start building

Posted: Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Juneau Raptor Center will receive $10,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help start their new raptor rehabilitation center near Brotherhood Bridge, but the nonprofit is still quite a ways from raising the roughly $500,000 they need to start building.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

The Raptor Center provides medical services for birds of prey and other birds from all over Southeast. Board President Janet Capito estimates they see 200 birds a year and helped 187 last year.

But without a formal clinic, the Raptor Center has been "working out of people's basements and garages," Capito said.

"Right now, I have a raven, a juvenile, who just needs time to grow feathers and learn how to fly," said Capito, who has a small enclosure for the bird but will need a bigger one when the time comes for it to learn to fly. "We need a centralized location," she said.

Another volunteer, Irene Morris, houses 10 to 15 birds a year in her home.

The Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Sitka treats as many birds as its Juneau counterpart, but on a 17-acre campus.

Even with the $10,000 grant, it's unlikely Juneau will have it's own rehabilitation clinic soon, Capito said.

"We have land but not enough money to build on it," she said.

She estimates they need about $500,000 to begin building, but planning for that is difficult because the center relies completely on donations and grants, and volunteers would defray labor costs.

The Raptor Center is working on getting wetland and building permits on several acres by Brotherhood Bridge.

The center's operating costs vary from year to year based on the birds' veterinary needs and food donations from community members.

The Raptor Center has about 150 members, of whom 15 actually house some of the birds.

Despite the difficulties, Morris isn't complaining,

"For me it's not difficult, it's really wonderful."

She stressed the educational side of the center.

"Our education birds do incredible work."

They do programs throughout the year with the center's eight educational birds: three hawks, two bald eagles, a raven, a falcon and a barn owl in training. In the summer, they also have an eagle exhibit at the Mount Roberts Tramway.

The grant money comes from the 2008 court settlement of the Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. case. AEL&P was fined $125,125 for "wanton disregard" in damaging and then destroying an eagles' nest during the 2006 and 2007 construction of the Lake Dorothy hydroelectric project.

Of that, Fish and Wildlife gave $35,000 to two raptor rehabilitation centers in Southeast Alaska, the $10,000 for Juneau and $25,000 to Sitka.

For more information about the Juneau Raptor Center, call 586-8393 or visit www.juneauraptorcenter.org.

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