Save the Warner Nature Center
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
Posted in the Star Tribune
I am a volunteer raptor handler at Warner Nature Center. I have been volunteering every Friday, unless I’m on vacation, at the center since April 2002. Warner currently houses three raptors: a barred owl, a screech owl and an American kestrel. We hold a permit for a fourth raptor since our red-tailed hawk died of natural causes/old age a couple of years ago.
At Warner, we have a volunteer base that is dedicated and passionate about our responsibilities. One can’t be squeamish as a raptor handler. It includes gutting squirrels, gophers, rats or whatever else is on the menu that day. There is also some care that requires dexterity — like applying oil to foot pads while lifting sharp talons, avoiding potential biting and being sure to get the oil on the target area.
The Manitou Fund and the Science Museum of Minnesota run Warner Nature Center and plan to shut it down by the end of the year. The trickle-down effect for this decision is great, from the more than 100 dedicated volunteers to the children who have experienced the diverse ecosystems on the property to the aged barred owl that has had the same volunteers caring for her week after week, year after year.
Will she survive a move to an unknown location with unknown caregivers? I’m hoping for a change of minds by the Manitou Fund or a miracle so we don’t have to put her to the test.
KELLI FITZMORRIS, SCANDIA