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Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery group already helping hundreds of eagles, hawks and owls this year

Posted: 6:46 PM, Jun 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-04 23:46:41Z

BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — Denise Lewis is the director of a group called Raptor Recovery that is partners with Fontenelle Forest.

At her home, she treats injured birds that need immediate help before they are transported from the metro to a rehab center.

"There's always a problem with these birds when man is involved," Lewis said. "If these guys are hit by a car, we're the only people to step in and try to save these animals."

For the past 40 years, Denise and 130 volunteers across the state have been the only Nebraska organization that has certification to treat these creatures. Some raptors find their way to Lewis' care after being shot by humans. But the ones calling her garage home right now injured themselves in the wild.

The half dozen birds were all reported by people around the metro this past week.

"This red-tailed hawk, I've provided critical care for," Lewis said. "The bald eagle that has a fracture in the wing, he will go and get an x-ray and possibly surgery."

Once the birds are in the hands of a volunteer, they're documented and tracked through Raptor Recovery's program. Denise says educating people about Raptor Recovery has become increasingly important over the years.

She says her group saved about 600 birds last year in Nebraska and western Iowa.

"When you know how these guys work, and the problems they have in the ecosystem, some can live among man pretty well, but others can't," Lewis said.

Saved raptors from the metro are driven to a recovery center in Elmwood, Nebraska. One day, they will be released back into the wild.

"When you see them in the wild, to me that's just thrilling," Lewis said.

Raptor Recovery has a hotline if you come across an injured hawk, falcon or other type of raptor: 866-888-7261.