Thursday, June 4, 2009

Riding for owls

Here is a short history and some tidbits about the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter (OWLS), the group that I am riding cross-country for.

OWLS is the only full-service agency of its kind in eastern North Carolina. OWLS first opened in 1988 by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Volunteers worked from their homes during that first year of existence. In 1999 OWLS moved to its present location off Highway 24 in Newport. The current facility consists of the shelter building, three acres of yard with cages for permanent and rehabilitating animals, a pond, and two acres of nature paths. There were 17,000 patients admitted in the first 18 years of operation. OWLS is staffed seven days a week by 60 volunteers. Pictured here are Dinah the barred owl, Phoenix the peregrine falcon, and Gabe the kestrel.

OWLS has a release rate of 40% for previously sick or injured animals. Ninety percent of infant or orphaned animals are returned to the wild. Over 100 species of birds, 17 species of mammals, and 9 species of reptiles have been successfully treated.

Education is a major role in the daily operations of OWLS. OWLS conducts special programs in the classroom area of the shelter for school children and special groups. This includes outreach for school and civic groups, participation in festivals and other local events, and tours of the shelter. OWLS’ income is mainly from private contributions, business and corporate aid, program fees, aluminum can recycling, gift shop sales, yard sales, and a small foundation grant.

OWLS needs roughly $16,000 per month to cover its operating expenses. The average cost per patient is $45. The majority of people who bring animals in for treatment do not make any financial contribution at all. OWLS relies on the financial support of its donors; it receives no financial support whatsoever from any state or federal agency. Please make a contribution to OWLS through this website, and be sure to follow my August cross-country bike tour on this blog site.

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