A healthy Golden Eagle can fly over a hundred miles in a single day, but injured eagles and other raptors need human help to get to rehabilitation centers. With only three centers currently serving Wyoming’s raptors, it can sometimes be a long journey. Fortunately, thirty-six Raptor Rescuers have volunteered to provide transportation, and more are joining the team every week. These rescuers are part of the Golden Eagle Rescue Network, coordinated by Teton RaptorCenter and funded by a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant.
YOU can help save Wyoming’s injured raptors by transporting them to rehabilitation centers. Sign up today, and we will call you when there is a bird in need. No raptor handling is required. If you have access to a vehicle and a passion for wildlife, fill out the form below for more information on how to become a Raptor Rescuer!
This female Great Horned Owl was found in the road by a truck driver, weak and unable to fly. The driver called Wind River Raptors, where founder Nathan Barnes determined that she had a broken wing that would need several weeks to heal. Big thanks to Raptor Rescuer Rick Slaymaker for transporting her to Teton Raptor Center, where we treated her fractured radius and open wound. From her very first day in our clinic, she was strong and aggressive, making us optimistic about her recovery. After several weeks healing in a wing wrap, we moved her to a larger enclosure where she spread her wings and gained strength. Her fractures and wounds are healed, and we will release her to the wild after her feathers have grown back to protect her from the cold Wyoming winter.
John Cameron had an unlikely passenger in his U-Haul on his way through Wyoming: a Rough-legged Hawk. She saw the injured hawk on the side of the road on Highway 25, just North of Casper. The bird was not able to stand, and ominous paw prints dotted the snow around him. Not knowing that federal regulations prohibit the transport of raptors without a permit, John picked up the bird and put it in his front seat. While he continued the icy drive towards Casper, his wife in California googled Raptor Rescue in Wyoming. She called Teton Raptor Center, and we directed John to the Casper WGFD office. After warning John about picking up the bird without a permit, Wildlife Management Coordinator Justin Binfet thanked him for bringing the bird to safety, and identified the haw as a Rough-Legged. Meanwhiel, TRC called Raptor Rescuers Zach Hutchinson (Casper) and Paul Kapp (Cheyenne) to transport the bird to Cheyenne Pet Clinic. Rocky Mountain Raptor Program staff picked the hawk up from CPC and brought him to RMRP, where they found significant internal trauma and fractures on both coracoids. Because John Cameron, Justin Binfet, and the Raptor Rescuers were able to transport the bird to care within hours of injury, she had the best possible chance at recovery. She seems to have recovered from internal trauma and we are hoping that her coracoids heal well enough for him to fly free once more.
Our second Golden Eagle Rescue Network rescue was a Golden Eagle found unable to fly just south of Rock Springs. Nathan Barnes at Wind River Raptors got the call and brought the female eagle back to his clinic in Lander. When the eagle tested positive for lead, he knew he needed to transfer her to Teton Raptor Center as soon as possible for treatment. Earlier that day, Carolyn Orr of Lander had called to inquire about becoming a Raptor Rescuer. She lives very near Wind River Raptors, and was available to bring the bird towards Jackson Hole just a few hours after signing up as a Raptor Rescuer. She met TRC volunteer Ty Cook in Dubois, and he drove the eagle the rest of the way to Wilson. Ty has extensive experience as a TRC volunteer, and he helped Rehab Coordinator Meghan Warren assess the eagle's injuries. They confirmed that the eagle had dangerously high levels of lead in her blood, and also found head, ear, and eye trauma. They began chelation therapy to treat lead poisoning, and administered antibiotics and eye drops. In less than ten days, the lead level in the eagle's blood dropped from 62.5 mcg/dl to 13.5 mcg/dl! She is completely blind in her left eye, but if she has full vision in her right eye she should be able to hunt and survive in the wild. We continued to monitor the concentration of lead in her blood, and once it fell below 5 mcg/dl we knew that she had fully recovered from lead poisoning. When birds are ready for release, we help them gain flight endurance by attaching a long line called a creance to their legs, releasing them to fly, and gently apply pressure on the line to induce them to land. We then recapture the bird and repeat the process. This eagle would only fly a few feet before landing, and we worried that her injuries permanently impacted her ability to fly. Two more raptor rescuers helped transport the eagle back to Wind River Raptors, where Nathan Barnes had been working hard to build a large flight enclosure. The eagle now lives in the enclosure where she can fly and gain strength. If she is able to pass her flight test, Nathan will put live prey in her enclosure as a "live prey test" to see if she can hunt and survive on her own in the wild. Thanks to the team efforts of Wind River Raptors, Raptor Rescuer volunteers, and TRC staff, this eagle may have a second chance at life in the wild.
Suzanne and Paul Hansen are rescue pilots, flying their 1957 Cessna 182A across Wyoming and beyond to save injured raptors, adoptable dogs, and other animals. Unfortunately, when we called them on October 4th to request transport for an injured Red-tailed Hawk, their plane was undergoing maintenance.They volunteered to drive more than eight hours round trip to bring the bird to Ironside Bird Rescue, where she is recovering in the care of Susan Ahalt.