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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Meets with Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center at Auburn University to Discuss Bird Losses at Center


July 9, 2003

Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291
Auburn University, Mike Clardy, 334-844-9996 cell: 334-750-0607

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today met with representatives from the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center at Auburn University about deaths of birds at their facility. We are working together with the Center to determine the best ways to tackle the difficult problem of possible avian diseases which have caused deaths of birds at the facility. Our mutual goal is to find the best ways to identify the illnesses and treat the birds that results in the best outcome for the birds at this facility, as well as for the wild bird population.

Today we jointly agreed the Center will conduct additional testing of birds at the facility. The Center will not accept any additional injured, orphaned or sick birds until this testing is done. We will continue to work with the wildlife experts at Auburn University and around the country to help identify causes of the deaths of the birds at the facility and develop the best ways to treat them.

For the protection of the wild bird population, we have asked the Center to hold any current birds at the center and not release them until additional testing is done to insure they do not carry diseases that might be transmitted into the wild bird population.

It should be noted that avian diseases-- especially with raptors -- are difficult to identify and treat, and cures may be elusive. We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will work with the Center to address this challenge.

There are two permits issued to the facility, one for rehabilitation and one for eagle exhibition. The activities authorized by these permits will be limited due to the deaths of birds at the facility until the additional testing is accomplished and a treatment protocol is established. The 25 birds in rehabilitation will be closely checked for a wide variety of potential diseases. This is a complicated and costly action, but the Center is committed to raptors in their care and those in the wild. As with other avian diseases, birds affected with contagious or untreatable diseases in the rehabilitation portion of the center may have to be euthanized.

Some of the birds used in the educational programs have been diagnosed with avian diseases. Their health may not allow them to be exhibited for educational purposes.

Auburn University will be issuing a statement later this afternoon. Press can contact Mike Clardy there at 334-844-9996 cell: 334-750-0607.

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Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

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