“Spirit” & “Nova” to appear at AFA Annual Meeting

tigerAuburn University’s famous eagles “Spirit” and “Nova” will be in attendance at the Opening Reception of the Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting on Sunday evening September 13th.  The birds will be available for photographs and are sure to be a hit with the children (both young and old!)

The birds have been invited by AFA to provide a highlight for the great work done by the Southeastern Raptor Center housed with in Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

If you have not done so, you can register for the Annual Meeting by going to www.alaforestry.org.  You better hurry!  Rooms are filling up fast.  We expect record attendance this year.

In the mid-1970’s, Dr. Jimmy Milton founded the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought six injured birds to the College of Veterinary Medicine and asked that the school become a rehabilitation hub for the Southeast. Dean Jimmy Greene, Dr. Greg Boring of Radiology and Dr. Milton arranged for Auburn University to become a regional center and accept injured birds of prey.

spiritDonations and volunteer work provided materials and labor to build a raptor barn behind the Small Animal Clinic in the late 1970’s. Birds were still treated in the hospital before being moved to small flight cages next to the barn. Later a hospital area was incorporated into the raptor barn.

In 1998 the Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett Raptor Center Hospital was opened off of Shug Jordan Parkway behind the College of Veterinary Medicine. The facility was made possible by a $300,000 donation from Dr. Woody Bartlett ’64 in honor of his mother, Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett, a noted Alabama philanthropist.

In 2002, the College of Veterinary Medicine opened the Carol Clark Laster/W.E. Clark Jr. Raptor Training Facility, which was made possible by Carol Laster of Birmingham. Laster, a retired junior high science teacher, donated $500,000 to the raptor center. Her husband, Dr. Russell Laster, is a 1951 graduate of the veterinary college. Mrs. Laster selected the Raptor Center for the gift after the death of her uncle W.E. Clark Jr., who left his estate to her care.

The Raptor Training Facility consists of 24 state-of-the-art mews and an office building. Non-releasable raptors are kept and trained at the facility for use in the educational programs. The Laster’s also contributed to the rehabilitation unit with the construction of six large flight aviaries for aerobic conditioning of releasable raptors.

In 2004, the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center (SERRC) was renamed the Southeastern Raptor Center (SRC) to reflect its multiple missions of rehabilitation, education and research.

Since its modest beginning, the Southeastern Raptor Center has treated and released thousands of birds of prey back into the wild. The educational unit has provided educational programs for thousands of schools, civic groups and churches in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Alabama Forestry Foundation utilizes the services of the Raptor Center to provide a meaningful hands on experience for rural school children to understand the benefits forests provide to these amazing birds.  See-  http://www.alaforestrygovtaffairs.org/raptor-warning-birds-of-prey-invading-monroe-clarke-counties/

For an interesting story about the history of Auburn’s first eagle involving one of AFA’s members, see-  http://www.alaforestrygovtaffairs.org/afa-member-plays-role-in-auburn-university-mascot-lore/

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