The birds at the Raptor Rehab facility in Gladstone are owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some of the birds there have permanent injuries, but others are being rehabilitated to return to the wild.
Jefferson the bald eagle has made his home at the facility for the last four months. He was struck by a car in Sault Ste. Marie and has a broken wing. That's not stopping him from trying to fly.
But not all the birds get to fly home.
All of the ones we can rehab and release back to the wild, explains owner Randy Bruntjens, we like to release if we can. Like this guy here, our great gray owl. They TMre really rare in the U.P. He was born with a defective wing, so he won't ever go back. But we use him for educational purposes to go to the schools."
Two hawks and three owls are permanent residents.
The end goal at the non-profit facility is to set the others back free. They're carefully nurtured with bandages and shots to rehydrate them.
I'll tell you, it's just one great feeling after the other to go back and release a bird into the wild. The other day I did a program up here at Baraga and I brought two owls back home up there. Actually, there were some people from the public who watched when I released them, and it brought tears to their eyes," Bruntjens said.
But the rehab doesn't come cheap. Some of the treatments can cost $134. And it takes $10,000-$12,000 to operate the center for one year.
The volunteer-run facility relies on grants and meat or money donations. They will accept any non-processed meat like steak or even chicken for their birds to eat.