First our apologies for not keeping the posts as current as many of you would like. But we have been quite busy increasing our capacity to save more lives. On April 1st we were getting back to posting and we had just had our 2nd anniversary at Northerly Island. Things were really running smooth. And by April 3 all of our plans were going to change to a new and exciting direction. On April 3rd we got copied on an email that explained that the Village of Itasca was planning to terminate the Raptor Education Program at Spring Brook Nature Center. Several years earlier they had discontinued rehabilitation of Birds of Prey to reduce the financial burden on the taxpayers of Itasca. The Village of Itasca was one of the last municipalities that was funding rehabilitation.
For those of you who don’t know, Spring Brook has had a rich legacy as a facility that provided great animal care, wonderful education programs and an excellent raptor internship program. That internship program has launched the careers of several of today’s wildlife rehabilitators. And one of those rehabilitators happens to be our own Founder, Dawn Keller. Dawn started her rehabilitation and education career as a volunteer at Spring Brook Nature Center and has always been a strong supporter of the program.
So what does this have to with Flint Creek Wildlife? After we heard the news we realized that the program was too important to just go away. So we put together a proposal to offer the Village of Itasca a way to keep the education birds on display at the nature center and to restore the legacy of the internship and rehabilitation programs by privatizing these programs. Privatizing allows the village and the residents to continue to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the Birds of Prey at no cost to village. In exchange Flint Creek would get use of the clinic at the nature center and access to all the caging on the property. On May 20, after many meetings and presentations to different groups we entered into an agreement with the village to immediately take over the raptor program.
So for the last 4-5 months we have been working out the agreement, updating the facility to support rehabilitation, cleaning up the clinic and the cages, making sure the caging is adequately cleaned and predator proofed, painting, repairing perches, we hosted a wonderful Eagle Scout project to increase the air circulation in the Rehab Cages and Rehab Flight Chambers, updating logos and brochures, working on web content updates, caring for nearly 200 animals, running the rescue and recovery programs at Northerly Island, putting on education programs that were previously booked by the Spring Brook staff as well as our own programs and handling between 80-100 calls a day. Sorry but posting had to slip…
So how does this Save Lives? We needed additional flight chamber capacity and have been in a capital campaign to raise the $100,000 to build a state of the art chamber in Barrington. Currently, we have not raised the capital to build the new flight chambers. The Itasca facility will provide us with 3 additional flight chambers so we are able to get more birds into prerelease caging faster, this reduces their time in rehabilitation and allows us to handle a higher volume of injured birds annually. The clinic in Itasca also gives us a 3rd location for the public and Animal Control Officers to drop off injured patients making it more convenient for many of the areas we serve.
It has been such a pleasure to work with Mayor Gigi Gruber, Trustees Mike Latoria and Jeff Aiani who chair the Nature Center committee, the Village Administrator Dave Williams and the entire Village Board. We are very excited about the possibilities that we have ahead to enhance the educational opportunities and to provide excellent care to injured and orphaned wildlife.
We hope that you can find some time to visit with our educational birds on display in Itasca. The nature center is located at 130 Forest Ave in Itasca, Illinois.
We will be accepting patients by appointment only, to make an appoint please call our main number at 847-842-8000. Please remember that we are not a part of the nature center staff and they cannot help you with an animal emergency.
If you would like to volunteer please checkout our volunteer page on flintcreekwildlife.org and keep an eye out for announcements about the upcoming Raptor Internship Programs as well as updates on our Itasca facility.
If you like interesting trivia here is a piece of Flint Creek triva: The redtailed hawk on display at the nature center is “Old Red”. When Dawn volunteered at Spring Brook, before she founded Flint Creek, she used to fly “Old Red” in the Raptors in the Skies program. “Old Red” in flight is the Flint Creek Wildlife Logo. “Old Red” is now retired and on permanent display at the nature center.
See you soon at our new Itasca facility.