What happens to wild animals living in and around our modern society when there is nobody to speak for them?
What happens to wild animals that are shot, sickened, or harmed by interactions with human activity, when there is nobody to care for them?
What happens to our children, when there is no vital, living wilderness left for them?
Medical Care and Rehabilitation for Raptors
Although we are all concerned about wild animal populations in trouble, and are glad that protected species and endangered species are given special protections by law, most Americans do not realize that no government funds are used to care for individual injured, sick, or orphaned wild animals. There are no government veterinarians to heal them. There are very little government involvement in captive-breeding or conserving wildlife. It's all done by private organizations and individuals, with private sponsorship dollars and donations from the public.
Last Chance Forever provides veterinary treatment, hospitalization, recovery housing, flight rehabilitation, and hunting skill rehabilitation for birds of prey that are found in distress. As with human patients, this process can be very long, complicated, and expensive. Some might ask why we help individual animals rather than concentrating on general environmental conditions that would benefit entire populations. The answer is simple - individual animals matter and we feel that doing so keeps a thumb on the pulse of environmental health.
Multiple raptor species are endangered, and many more are on the brink. We know from other efforts to save vanishing species, like the peregrine falcon, that each animal returned to the wild is a victory. When population numbers fall too much, genetic material is irretrievably lost. Later generations can become inbred and weak; fewer animals are born, and more die young. Across the world, projects working to save threatened species from the white rhino to the amur leopard to the California condor all find themselves facing this reality. Successfully preserving one bird in the wild today means we have preserved many more for tomorrow.
Last Chance Forever receives up to 300 birds of prey from a three-state area, with our largest impact affecting Bexar County, Texas. However, we are on call to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for specialized cases such as endangered or threatened species such as bald eagles, golden eagles and peregrine falcons. We are one of only three organizations relied upon by the Department of Fish and Wildlife in Texas to care for these raptors. Our bird clients are brought to us by the public, veterinarians, wildlife agencies, animal control officers and humane societies. We have received birds from as far north as Minnesota and as far away as Brazil.
A number of birds brought to our center can not be sufficiently healed and rehabilitated to survive in the wild. These cases include raptors that have been taken in as juveniles by usually well-intentioned people, which can never be released because of human imprinting and inability to take on the natural behavior of properly functioning adult birds; and raptors which have suffered severe and permanent injuries. Some of these birds can be provided a home for life and the best quality of life possible. Over many years, sometimes decades, this care is quite expensive.
These birds are often able to help others of their kind. Some may be able to participate in captive breeding programs which result in young birds released to the wild. Others become "foster parents" to orphaned juveniles, minimizing the need for human contact and the risk of imprinting. Yet others become educational ambassadors, aiding us in teaching the public about biology, natural history, and conservation so that perhaps such tragedies will be avoided in the future.
Common Sense Conservation
Because most harm to raptors and other wild predators can be attributed to human activities, it is our responsibility to see that a balance between the human and natural worlds is maintained. To that end, we provide educational programming to bridge the gap between the human species and the amazing natural world that surrounds us, while striving to maintain a common-sense approach to conserving our precious natural resources. We are daily reminded that our natural resources are diminishing at an alarming rate. We try to bring our community to a common-ground understanding of the natural world and our need to preserve our wildlife heritage for generations to come with minimal sacrifice to our own development.
Our educational programming has been designed to reach the public of all ages, from pre-K to adults, including professional organizations. In 2005 alone we provided presentations for public libraries, children's events, public and private schools and public venues, fairs, festivals, and outdoor events to over 250,000 people just in the Bexar County area. Our educational work extends throughout Texas and beyond, even 1,500 miles north to Minnesota.
The costs of providing educational demonstrations are high. Travel, maintaining permanent resident ambassadors, staff time, equipment and insurance are only some of the expenses. Program fees cover a portion of these costs. However, we feel that such work is indispensible in conserving our wildlife when it is a common human flaw to waste what we do not value.
Giving to Last Chance Forever
We hope that you will consider supporting our work to preserve our, and our children's, wildlife heritage. Since 1978, Last Chance Forever has been providing services that few other organizations nationally can provide. Your support is tax-deductible. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at (210) 499-4080. To learn more about ways to support birds of prey, you can also see our How to Help