Luna has become the perfect educational Great Horned Owl at Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, Louisville. Photo: Ken McBroom
Volunteers help winged creatures heal
IF YOU’VE SPENT TIME OUTDOORS, you’ve probably come across an injured or sick animal. You immediately wonder what is wrong and how you can help. There are many rehabilitation centers for injured and sick animals in Kentucky. I recently traveled to Louisville and visited with Tiffany Dicks at Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, Inc. (RROKI). The group was founded by Eileen and John Wicker in the 1980s and was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1990.
Tiffany explained the many facets of running a rehabilitation facility. Aside from rehabilitating owls, eagles, hawks, vultures and other raptors for release back into the wild, RROKI offers events to help educate the public. Events focus on not only rehabbing raptors, but also the many ways raptors might end up in rehab. Understanding what can hurt raptors in your area can help you keep them safe.
RROKI operates on donations and with volunteers. You can donate directly, and you can even adopt a raptor. By adopting a raptor, you contribute directly to the care of the bird you adopt. The donation goes toward the medical procedures needed to rehabilitate the raptor as well as food and housing.
Volunteer work there is not glamorous, but it is rewarding. Founder Eileen Wicker discusses this in a video at www.raptorrehab.org. How many people get to hang out with a bald eagle or a great horned owl? Hearing their songs throughout the day will help keep you going. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, you can find an application on the website. Volunteer training is strict and thorough.
Animals are at home living in the wild, but there are many obstacles they must overcome. With dangerous chemicals, vehicle collisions, loss of habitat and more, there are more obstacles today than ever before. Learning more about our raptor friends and passing on what we learn to others is a vital step to keeping them healthy and safe. Folks who work or volunteer to rehabilitate animals do so because they love them and want to help. Organizations like RROKI care for the animals and educate the public about ways to help keep the animals safe.
Find a list of rehabilitators in Kentucky at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website, https://app.fw.ky.gov/rehabilitatornew.
Learn more about ways to protect your neighborhood raptors by visiting www.raptorrehab.org.