The Juneau Raptor Center is still in the bird-saving business, with one change: No one else can touch the birds.
“Normally what happens is people call my emergency pager and say ‘A bird hit my window, and I picked it up and put it in a box,’” said JRC manager Kathy Benner in a phone interview. “They should page us and not pick it up, and we’ll come and get it.”
To limit interpersonal contact, JRC’s new protocol forbids them from taking birds that have been picked up or taken inside, Benner said.
“If they pick it up and bring it inside the house we cannot take it,” Benner said. “We have to protect ourselves and we have to protect the public.”
The JRC made that decision internally to help prevent spread of the coronavirus amidst a flurry of best practices cutting across all aspects of life.
“We are still rescuing birds,” Benner said. “We just got an eagle in from Skagway.”
The eagle, an adult male bald eagle, was blown into an obstacle by high winds and injured his wing and leg. It was medevaced to Juneau, from which it’ll be taken to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Benner said. The ARC is putting its own measures in place.
“They’re not open to the public,” Benner said. “We’re all still trying to take care of birds because birds are still getting hurt.”
Benner said that the JRC will continue to operate as long as it can, despite a savagely amputated tourist season.
“We’re hurting. Without the cruise ships coming this summer, that’s a big chunk of our funding. This is hurting everyone financially,” Benner said. “It’s gonna be a rough time for a lot of nonprofits, but it’s still a service that’s needed and we’re still gonna do it.”
If you see a bird in distress:
Do not pick it up. Do not touch it. If you do, JRC cannot help. Call the JRC’s emergency pager at 790-5424. They will come assist the bird.
If you pick up the bird anyway: Call the number, and JRC will help you over the phone.