Wind River Raptors – Our Wyoming


(bluesy country music) – When we first looked
at it on an x-ray, it was something that we
thought, “we can pin that.” It was a very big,
very clean break. Both the humerus and
the ulna, just boom, just off the side,
completely broke in half. We knew going into
the surgery that if the bone was too far gone, that the bird met the
criteria as an ed bird, and so we would continue
on with an amputation and hopefully have that bird
become an educational bird for somebody in the country. – So I do think we are
gonna amputate here, because my worry is– – [Assistant] The
necrosis on that? – [Dr. Cook] With all
the necrosis and whatnot that we’d just be fighting
infection the entire time if we tried to pin it. – We then started to prep
the bird for surgery, we had to start pulling feathers
around the surgical site, which is super intense, I mean, they are huge birds with
really tough feathers, that pulling on that
just felt really strange. – [Dr. Cook] Give it some lift. – [Nathan] But once we
got into the surgery, everything went pretty smooth. The biggest question mark we
had was running anesthesia on a golden eagle. There’s not a lot
of data out there. It was stressful, it was
a lot of a guessing game. And a lot of just
working by feel, watching breaths, and
listening to heart rate. You know, I was holding feet,
we had another technician running anesthesia, monitoring
respirations and heart rates, surgeon was working, and we
thought we had it in the bag. I mean, the surgery
went really well. – We amputated right at what
would be the elbow joint in humans, closed that
up with some sutures that’ll fall out
here in a few months. But everything went well so far, so we’ll see if he
recovers good here, and we’ll go from there. – When we brought the bird out, got everything all
wrapped up, buttoned up, and I was actually
putting the bird back into the crate for transport,
and I felt the bird shudder. And I knew that was
a bad, bad sign. Dr. Cook got down there with
me, and we started monitoring, and all of a sudden we realized his respiration started
dropping drastically. Then it was emergency crisis. Then it was crashing. – Yeah, grab some Atropine. (sad, suspenseful music) Just the faintest of heartbeat. – It is just– you know. And there’s was just a
moment there, we went, “This is lost.” Often times we deal
with long-shot cases. It still sucks, it
still really is painful. Part of what we do in
rescue and rehabilitation is we deal with a lot of
hard cases, and we deal with a lot of tragedy. We also get to do some
really cool stuff. (upbeat folksy music) Tolsa, Bentonite, up
out of Casper, Wyoming, fired up their
equipment and realized that they had eggs
on a conveyor belt. They shut everything down, shut down their entire
Bentonite plant, and started making
phone calls to try to figure out what to do. I spent 30 hours trying to
do an off-site relocation. Eventually it became
apparent that parents weren’t gonna come back to the nest,
so we scooped up three eggs, and transported them
back to the center. Hatching baby owlets is
nothing like a chicken. We have incubators that
are designed to do raptors. Then we have warming units
that we have on the end, and we can put them in
different temperatures. Everything’s
humidity controlled,
temperature controlled, oxygen controlled, and
they grow like crazy. I mean, they double
in size in 10 days. The whole intention is for us
to rehabilitate these birds to get the ready to
re-release back to the wild. So what we do is we don
camouflage and face masks. Babies are always
pointed out away from us, we use pipe natural owl
sounds, hooting owls we get from Cornell University
to play so they’re being around the sounds. We also have the Wyoming
Game and Fish loaned us their education owl, Jupiter,
so Jupiter actually gets to spend time in front
of the incubation unit. And so as they are starting
to open their eyes, which happens around
between days seven and 10, they’re seeing another owl,
so they are imprinting, going, “Oh, I must
be another owl. “I sound like an owl, it looks
like an owl, I am an owl.” (bluesy country music) I came into rehabilitation
through the pursuit of the sport and art of falconry,
which is kind of like extreme bird
watching where you get to watch these birds do
what they naturally do in the wild, and you just got
to be in close proximity to it is just a really cool thing. It really drove me to
further study of raptors. And within that, I
started realizing that there’s such a high
mortality rate, and that the mortality
rate was increasing from previous
studies done to now, we’re seeing that
go up, and I said, “Somebody’s gotta do something.” And there wasn’t anyone
locally to do anything. In fact, with only two
locations in the entire state that even could take in a bird, I said, “Well, I guess
I’ll do something then.”

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