The Southeastern Raptor Center revealed its new set of wheels Thursday afternoon. The Raptor Center was in need of a new van after their current one broke down earlier this year.
The Auburn Alumni Association donated the funds for the Raptor Center’s new Ford Explorer, and Aaron Blackmon, Information Technology Specialist for Auburn Magazine, designed the wrap for the new vehicle.
“The van has already been very helpful in our day-to-day missions,” said Dr. Seth Oster, the Primary Care Veterinarian for the Raptor Center. “Up until now the van was a white nondescript government vehicle that didn’t look very fancy, and then we were approached by Aaron Blackmon who had this idea to put the wrap on it. Aaron designed the wrap himself, and it is beautiful.”
Following the big reveal, five birds of prey were released into the wild after being rehabilitated from their injuries at the Raptor Center.
“Today we are releasing a Red-tailed hawk, two Barred owls, a Great Horned owl and a Mississippi kite,” Oster said. “All of these birds have made it through the rehabilitation process. They have been evaluated for their flight ability in our aviaries, they have passed their flight exams, they have been evaluated again for their original injuries that they came in with and they have no more lingering effects from those injuries. These birds have all passed and they are ready to go back into the wild.”
The Southeastern Raptor Center is divided into two divisions, the educational division, and the rehab division. The Raptor Center has an educational collection of about 28 birds. The birds are all nonreleasable and are permitted to the Raptor Center by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The birds are used for about 300 educational presentations a year.
The rehab division is responsible for rehabilitating injured birds of prey and releasing them back into the wild. The Raptor Center will take in about 350-400 injured birds of prey per year, including injured hawks, falcons, eagles, owls, vultures and kites from across the southeast.
“We are very excited to have this new vehicle,” said Dr. Jamie Bellah, director of the Southeastern Raptor Center. “The Alumni Association generously donated the funds to cover the purchase of the van for us, and we are very appreciative of that. The van will be used to transport birds to and from the vet school as well as transporting birds for release to local national forests.”
For more information about the Southeastern Raptor Center visit their website.