MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Thanksgiving night, the University of Minnesota Raptor Center treated its 1,000th bird of the year.
It’s not a milestone they’re necessarily celebrating; that means more injured birds have been brought into the center this year than ever before.
“In one year, 1,000 is an enormous number of raptors to have come through,” education program manager Gail Buhl said.
In fact, it’s a record in the 42-year history of the center. And it’s not just one species that’s affected. Last year, 153 injured eagles were brought into the Raptor Center. So far in 2016 that number is at 174 and counting.
“A lot more Cooper’s Hawks, Great Horned Owls — almost 50 more Great Horned Owls than we’ve had in past years,” Buhl said.
The reasons for the increases aren’t exactly clear. Experts speculate it may be because we’ve created more obstacles for the birds.
“It could be because we are creating more urbanization as our population grows. So we are more spread out and a lot of these birds have been able to adapt to us fairly well. But still there are these conflicts every once in a while that we are hoping to help mitigate,” Buhl said.
They’ll look at each case individually at the end of the year to see if they can pinpoint a pattern. In the meantime, their goal is to get the injured raptors not just back on their feet, but back in the air.
“Our goal is always release. We are really trying to get these birds back out the door as quickly as we can,” Buhl said.
A lot of what the Raptor Center does to help the injured birds comes through donations. If you would like to help, click here.