The Lewis & Clark Visitors Center hosted Bald Eagle Days over the past weekend. Saving Our Avian Resources (SOAR) brought along several of their education birds to help visitors learn the importance of SOAR's objectives.
SOAR is a non-profit organization based in Carroll County, . Executive Director, Kay Neumann heads the organization with the help of her staff and many volunteers.
With the help of Linette Bernard, SOAR's Communications Director and Alex Lynott, visitors were given the chance to get up close to four of SOAR's education birds which include a Kestrel, an Eastern Screech Owl, a Ferruginous Hawk and Thora, a Bald Eagle.
Lynott has been a mentee under Neumann for four years now. She currently holds a sub-permit under SOAR so that she may provide temporary critical care to the birds until she can transport the animals to Neumann at SOAR. "I'm honored that she invites me to help with programs", Lynott said. Neumann has offered Lynott her own educational Screech Owl, Aldo Leopold which was a part of the program this weekend.
Neumann hopes that visitors will take a few things away from her presentation. While her requests are minor, they have a great impact. The first thing she say is that she hopes to encourage people to go out and watch the wildlife. This will help folks acknowledge wildlife and will remember that we coexist with wildlife. We need to be conscious of all wildlife, not only the avian.
Her second take-away are the "simple little things like with our screech owl and kestrel is if we can provide safe nesting areas by putting up nesting boxes and providing grassland habitat and woodland areas", said Neumann.
Finally and probably the most important is to avoid using lead ammunition. "We just published a paper that half of the eagles that come to us for rehabilitation come in because they have ingested lead", Neumann said. She further says that poisoning is not an acceptable form of mortality of any form of animal.
The way that eagles get lead poisoning is from an ammunition source as the lead is ingested through consumption of animal carcasses. Eagles eat not only the food that they catch but also through scavenging. Through the scavenging is where the lead generally comes into play.
SOAR is hoping to get people to use nontoxic shots, copper slugs, copper or tin bullets. "There are 130 different species of wildlife that can ingest lead ammunition and will get sick from it", Neumann continued. "Eagles are just an indicator species".
SOAR is a nonprofit that operates on grants and donations. They take in birds from the western half of Iowa. "That is where our facility is and where we do the rehabilitation", Neumann explained. We also have volunteers spread out all over the place as far as helping perform rescues in the field and getting animals transported.
While volunteers contribute a great deal, monetary donations are always welcomed. SOAR accepts donations through their website at several different levels. If you would like to help their cause or just find out more information on their organization, you may visit www.soarraptors.org