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Donations needed for local raptor rehab

For wild life rehabilitators, spring is a busy season and that is no exception for Bubba and Friends Inc., a raptor rehabilitation organization in Pike County. Unfortunately, with the influx of new birds – often injured adults or babies who have fallen from nests or been abandoned – comes the need for funding for veterinary expenses and food. That is complicated by the fact that many raptor rehab programs across the state have closed over the years, leaving Bubba and Friends caring for more and more birds in need each season. ’Our raptor rehabilitation program works to put birds of prey or raptors – eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, vultures, kites and others – whether injured or orphaned, back into the wild where they belong,’ said Bubba and Friends founder Steve Hicks. ‘Our territory has been increased because other rehab programs have shut down. We now get raptors from as far south as Albany, as far east as Dublin, as far north as interstate 20 and as far west as the Alabama line. We are licensed and permitted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S Department of the Interior. Both agencies provide oversight to ensure compliance with all laws but provide no funding. All funds must raised by each rehab project.’ Donations to help rehab injured or abandoned birds of prey can be made online at Bubba-and-Friends.org or by mailing a check to Bubba and Friends to P.O. Box 103, Zebulon 30295. Bubba and Friends is a 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax exempt. Find out more about the organization on their website or on Facebook page, Bubba and Friends Inc. The local raptor rehabilitation organization has been in operation for about 25 years and to date has put approximately 650 raptors of all species back into the wild. All the rehabbing work is done by volunteers and all funds go directly to rehabilitation expenses. Rehab expenses include food, medicine and housing costs. Food alone can exceed $1,000 each month. Flight pens for the birds of prey are made with untreated wood to avoid exposing the raptors to the toxins in treated wood so the untreated wood has to be replaced every three to four years. ’We are working to raise funding now to get through the year,’ said Hicks. ‘This time of year, owls are on the nest and hatching the next generation. Problems arise when the babies fall out of their nests and need to be rehabbed for release back into the wild. Bubba and Friends is getting ready for the babies – owls first and then diurnal raptors.’ Bubba was a Redtailed Hawk who sustained a broken pelvis in a collision with an automobile. Since the injury rendered him unreleaseable to the wild we opted to try him as an educational ambassador. ’Not only did he adapt quickly he excelled with a calm demeanor and unflappable temperament,’ said Hicks. ‘We received a call from a school to present an educational program about raptors. The teacher presented us to her class as Bubba and His Friends. A couple weeks later another teacher called and wanted Bubba and his Friends to visit her school. She did not tell us about the newspaper photographer who was going to be there. We had a great time with students and staff. The biggest surprise was the front page story with a picture of ‘˜Bubba and Friends.’ So we were named.’

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