Unless donations are made, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program will find itself struggling to feed its patients in the coming months.
The Raptor Program currently cares for about 125 birds of prey and the shortage of food â€œhas been building for quite some time,â€ said Bob Francella, director of public support.
â€œA whole food diet is critical to them,â€ Francella said. â€œWithout it, theyâ€™re not going to be as healthy, theyâ€™re not going to be as strong.â€
Last year the program saw a donation of 5,500 pounds of wild prairie dogs that were humanly killed and tested for disease, but that donation wonâ€™t be coming, Francella said.
The Raptor Program sees four-to-six tons of meat donated each year, the prairie dog donation served as one-third of that.
â€œPrairie dogs are a good raptor food because they can basically consume the whole animal,â€ Francella said, adding that the contracted exterminator is having a hard time bringing in business because it is more expensive to humanely kill prairie dogs.
The exterminator uses CO2 gas to put the rodents to sleep, puts them in plastic baggies and freezes them, while other companies poison or bulldoze the colonies. The Raptor Program, Francella said, is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals, so it must look to other food suppliers.
To combat the issue before its supply runs dry, the Raptor Program sent out an emergency notice to 4-H clubs and other agencies around the state to bolster donations.
The National Charity League, a mother-daughter organization aimed to boost philanthropy,
helps the Raptor Program with special events. Tina Deringer, vice president of membership, said many of the leagues members have gone on to volunteer with the Raptor Program.
â€œGiven the economic climate, every non-profit is hurting and people are very cognizant of where their money is going,â€ Deringer said. Her organization is urging members to gift the Raptor Program something off its wish list.
To help out with the programâ€™s in-house breeding colony as a Rodent Wrangler, students can volunteer anytime from 7 a.m. to 7p.m., seven-days a week. Those interested can learn how to start their own colony at home, too.
The program has an open house Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its 720 E. Vine Drive location.
Assistant News Editor Kirsten Silveira can be reached at email@example.com.
Want to help out?
*To donate: *Go to www.laynelabs.com, click on â€œGet Wildâ€ and choose Rocky Mountain Raptor Program to receive a gift certificate, and choose the amount you can donate.
To Volunteer: Contact the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program at 970-484-7756