Each year, hundreds of birds of prey are injured or killed, however, one B.C. organization is doing what it can to help where it can.
“Ninety per cent of the cases (we receive) are (from) human-caused factors from cars to power lines, window strikes, rodenticides, and lead poisoning are the major contributors.”
“Everything we do as humans has an impact on our wildlife, even if not always directly,” said Jeremy Ferguson, who volunteers with OWL and Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre in Abbotsford.
”We are at the time of year where (birds being hit by cars) will become a more common occurrence with (the animals) finding it harder to find food as it gets colder., (which) also speeds up their metabolism, (making) them that much more hungry,” he continued.
So with more than 700 winged patients brought to them each year, Hope says OWL has its work cut out.
“If you see a bird in need of help, we ask that people give us a call right away,” said the bird care manager. “We’re on call 24 hours a day.”
Birds that end up at OWL for care spend anywhere from one night to nine months at the centre, says Hope. But it’s the care they receive while there that makes the most difference.
“We work with vets to get the animals the best treatment possible,” continued Hope. “The more (the vets do) for the animals, the more the future holds better for them with what they can see and do.”
But how do the birds come to be at OWL? Through the efforts of good samaritans, says Hope.
Once OWL’s been alerted to a bird in need, they’ll send out a volunteer to transport the animal to their facilities. “But we do ask that somebody either stays with the animal, or if able, to wrap it in a blanket, jacket, or coat and contain it until we can get a volunteer there, as in most situations, time is of the essence.”
And as all birds of prey are provincially protected, Hope adds that OWL needs to be notified whether the animal is dead or alive.
“They are all owned by Mother Nature or the queen, so the average person can’t have a (bird of prey) dead or alive without a permit,” he explained. However, once OWL’s been notified of a bird in need, the person helping becomes a volunteer working on behalf of OWL’s permit.
“The reason why we like the dead birds (brought in is because) we can get them tested for rodenticides or other environmental issues, which allows us to deal with what may be causing problems,” Hope continued.
But besides calling in any birds who are in need or deceased, Hope says OWL is in need of more volunteers.
With only three or four volunteers in the Chilliwack area, Hope says the organizations is “always looking for more volunteers. Some of it’s here (in Delta) doing bird care, but it’s also stuff like transporting, (which) is big for us.”
And, Hope adds, besides just feeling good for doing good, volunteers who transport birds can submit receipts for mileage.
To report an injured or deceased bird of prey to OWL, please call 604-946-3171, or visit their website at www.owlrehab.org.