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Posted January 26, 2012
Dispatch #12
The Rehabbers

This is one in a series of dispatches sent from the road by photographer Joel Sartore.

(Listen to Joel talk about Betsy Finch and Raptor Recovery Nebraska.)

To tell you the truth, Betsy Finch isn’t much interested in finches. Some 36 years ago, Betsy founded Raptor Recovery Nebraska, a network of volunteers across the state who rescue and care for orphaned and injured hawks, owls, falcons, and eagles. She bought a farm near Elmwood, Nebraska, married Doug Finch, and settled in on a shoestring budget.

All these years later, Raptor Recovery Nebraska has rescued and treated an amazing 10,375 birds of prey, and counting. That’s a lot of work, and with nearly 50 percent of those animals released back into the wild, it’s also one of the best success rates in the nation.

Why do raptors get in trouble? The West Nile virus started taking a terrible toll in 2002 and hasn’t let up. Lead poisoning in eagles is a continuing problem. But the relentless destruction of habitat is of the most concern. As grain prices reach record highs, more and more grassland and woodlands will be converted to crops, eliminating the places that raptors and all other wild creatures need to survive.

Photo: Opossum with babies
An opossum (Didelphis virginiana) with babies at
Nebraska Wildlife Rehab.

There are many wildlife rehab groups around the country. Odds are there is one near you. All care deeply about the animals entrusted to them, no matter what species. To prove it, Laura Stastny, of Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, provided an opossum with babies (pictured above) for me to photograph not long ago. And then there was The Wildlife Center in Espanola, New Mexico, which was caring for a skunk. Every animal is important to groups like these. Their goal is to heal the animals they can and release them back into the wild.

Each one of wildlife rehab groups I’ve visited does great work with very little funding. If you have a chance to visit their websites and can offer your support, please do. They’ll appreciate it, and so will the creatures they care for.

Raptor Recovery Nebraska: www.raptorrecoverynebr.org
Nebraska Wildlife Rehab: www.nebraskawildliferehab.org
The Wildlife Center: www.thewildlifecenter.org
Wildlife Images: www.wildlifeimages.org

PreviousNext dispatch “Back Home”

Help Joel rename the Biodiversity Project

See more animal portraits and learn how you can help at
www.joelsartore.com/galleries/the-biodiversity-project/.

To hire a National Geographic photographer or license photos, visit: nationalgeographicassignment.com and nationalgeographicstock.com.

For updates, follow @NatGeoMag on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.

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