Butler County volunteer helping group save raptors in southwest Ohio

Charlene Howell of Wayne Twp. taught first grade for 36 years for Edgewood City Schools. When she retired, she sought a good volunteer opportunity, and she arrived at one of the area’s more unique animal aid organizations.

RAPTOR, Inc. (Regional Association for the Protection and Treatment of Raptors) is non-profit serving southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky to help rescue, rehabilitate, and release raptors and birds of prey.

Howell began volunteering in November 2013 and now works about 200 to 300 hours per year. She started washing cages, began helping as a rehabilitation assistant for injured and sick birds, and she is now one of the educators that deliver programming for groups in their area.

“We provide different types of programs such as Owl Babies for young children, All About Owls, Pellet Dissection, scout badge requirements, and Beaks and Talons to name a few. We do programs from preschool to senior citizens,” she said.

Several veterinarians donate their time helping injured birds that come into RAPTOR. The bird stays at RAPTOR until it is recovered and then released back into the wild.

“About 300 injured birds come into our facility each year,” said Howell. “We have about a 60% release rate.”

Some birds too injured to be released and are used in educating students and residents while they are being cared for. Those that are released are celebrated.

“Releases are very special occasions,” said Cindy Alverson, RAPTOR, Inc’s director. “It is time to celebrate when injured birds have healed and are released back to their home territory.”

RAPTOR’S oldest Educational Ambassador is Earl, a Turkey Vulture. Earl came to RAPTOR, Inc. over 30 years ago, illegally taken out of its nest. Officials tried to release it several times but Earl would search the parks for human companions.

“Finally, it was determined Earl would be best at RAPTOR,” said Howell. “At RAPTOR she laid an egg but her name stuck. Now she’s known as Earl the Showgirl because she loves visitors and she’ll stretch her black and silver six-foot wingspan out for all her visitors.”

As a Raptor Center, only raptors and birds of prey are treated at the RAPTOR, Inc. facility. Community members whofind owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, ospreys, and vultures can call RAPTOR, Inc.

The RAPTOR, Inc. website lists rehabilitators who treat these birds as well as rehabilitators who treat mammals and other animals in the area. They provide information to the citizens of the surrounding area by listing resources to help animals that RAPTOR, Inc. doesn’t treat.

Contact this writer: hir54bel@gmail.com

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