Santa Fe Raptor Center faces funding crisis

NewsNM: Swickard - is there ever the thought that one day we might have to decide to fund the Raptor Center or feed our children in public school? Could happen. I hope the decision would be, the heck with birds we care about children. From the Santa Fe New Mexican - On a snowy afternoon Friday, Lori Paras pushed open the door to a large wooden enclosure built with slats of plywood. “Stay towards the sides,” she warned. “The birds don’t like it when you’re in the middle.”
Inside the enclosure, about 20 feet up, two golden eagles perched on opposite ends of the room. Two turkey vultures scuttled around on the ground. A goat leg lay in the middle of the floor, a bit picked apart, and falling snow came through the building’s slatted walls in gusts. The birds, majestic and dark brown against the snow, cast their watchful gaze toward the visitors.
Just past Eldorado in the Los Caballos subdivision off U.S. 285, Paras lives and works at the Santa Fe Raptor Center with her dog, Toad. The center is a nonprofit organization that she co-founded eight years ago with the help of other volunteers. It exists to rehabilitate wild birds of prey that have been injured by flying into a barbed wire fence, being shot, or hit by a car, among other causes.
Paras says that every bird she has was hurt though human-related activities. A trained veterinary technician, she hails from Prescott, Ariz., and worked at the Wildlife Center in EspaƱola for five years before co-founding the Santa Fe Raptor Center. Currently, the Raptor Center has about 21 birds, more than double its usual capacity. In addition to the golden eagles and turkey vultures, screech owls, great horned owls, Mississippi kites, a red-tailed hawk and a peregrine falcon are being rehabilitated. Some birds stay for as little as two weeks, while others are in residence for more than a year.
“We’re running out of funds,” Paras explained. “We’ll be out of money by the end of January.” Though the center has a volunteer who focuses solely on grant writing, “We just can’t catch up fast enough.”
It’s expensive to feed the birds. Paras lucked out with the goat (which was donated by someone in EspaƱola, after it had been killed by dogs), but generally, the birds eat frozen rats, quail and mice. A large rat costs $4, while a quail costs $3, and because the Raptor Center has more birds than usual this year, it’s been difficult to keep up. Paras said that breeding mice or rats at the Raptor Center is unrealistic because they don’t have the proper facilities and the neighborhood wouldn’t allow it. Read more