A Growing Sanctuary for Injured Birds of Prey
by Rachel Scott McDaniel
The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center (BPRC) was founded in 2004 by a handful of individuals dedicated to the preservation of North Texas wildlife. The program began on a volunteer’s ranch 70 miles northeast of Dallas. “We started out with programs in the area,” BPRC Executive Director Erich Neupert recalls. “But we were looking for a permanent place.”
In 2007, BPRC struck a deal with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for leasing Brockdale Park, on Lavon Lake. Now they have a facility that houses their educational raptors, a rehabilitation center that cares for injured birds and a park where events are held for the public.
The educational raptors are well-trained hawks, falcons and owls that cannot be released into the wild due to prohibiting injuries. Highly qualified BPRC educational specialists present demonstrations to spectators of all ages, revealing an up-close and personal experience with the raptors.
The rehabilitation center is designed to receive injured birds, and in addition to receiving both state and federal permits, the facility is equipped to treat the wounded birds until they are fit to be released into the wild. “This is our purpose; to give the birds a second chance,” states Neupert. That’s why the center provides the necessary care and releases the raptors back to the wild as soon as possible.
An injured bird is usually brought to the center by an individual that happens upon it or by local animal control services. Also, BPRC responds to calls and picks up wounded raptors in the area. Over the past 10 months, the center has cared for almost 300 birds.
The BPRC facility includes a park and pavilion. A First Saturday event is held every month, and that is the only time the park is open to the public. Each event has a different theme and offers a variety of activities for the whole family.
The center is upheld by the generosity of others. “A great way to help is by donating.” Neupert says, “It’s a big part of what keeps us going.” They offer an adopt-a-raptor sponsorship program where supporters can fund a bird and view its progress on the BPRC website. Also, events are held throughout the year to raise money for their mission. Besides monetary gifts, the center accepts donations of construction material and tools.
BPRC accepts volunteers 16 and over. Because the rehabilitation hospital requires a variety of permits, volunteers must receive appropriate training in order to handle the birds. “All the training is at the facility,” notes Neupert. “It’s quite a commitment.” Though the training is provided free of charge, the volunteers must be dedicated and responsible.
The future plans of BPRC include more cages to care for the influx of raptors and building an education center at the park so they can be open to the public on a regular basis.
The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is located on 1625 Brockdale Park Rd., in Lucas. For more information, call 469.964.9696 or visit bpraptorcenter.org. To report an injured bird to the center, call 972-442-7607.