– Laura Lundberg
Nestled in the lush forested area of East Spencer Butte Park lies a small refuge for those that have had one of the things that they rely on the most, flight, taken from them. The Cascades Raptor Center is this refuge, taking in any bird that has been injured and providing a home for them until they can care for themselves once again. It is a non-profit center that was started in 1987 by Louise Shimmel, who believes that all birds deserve a second chance.
Each year, the Cascade Raptor Center takes in about 200 birds. The staff devotes hours of hard work in order to rehabilitate them, eventually releasing about half the birds back into the wild. Currently there around 60 different birds at the center, and about 30 different types of species. “We have both Bald and Golden Eagles, Osprey, Turkey Vultures, eight kinds of hawks, five species of falcons, and eleven types of owls,” said Shimmel, who currently serves as Executive Director of the center.
The Cascade Raptor Center also works to educate the Eugene community about these magnificent birds of prey. Their mission, written on their website, states:
“Through wildlife rehabilitation and public education, Cascades Raptor Center fosters a connection between people and birds of prey. Our goal is to help the human part of the natural community learn to value, understand, and honor the role of wildlife in preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the Pacific Northwest.”
The facility works to raise awareness by allowing people from different schools to volunteer at their facility so that they can learn about how birds and how important they are to our ecosystem. Their purpose for public education is that the program is, “Designed to enhance the awareness, respect, appreciation, and care of the earth and all its inhabitants so critical for a balanced and healthy planet.”
Recently, the Cascade Raptor Center celebrated its 20th anniversary. They worked to raise $20,000 dollars in order to help their facility, and to match a $10,000 grant that they were given by longtime supporters of the center. They raised an amazing total of $36,000 dollars in contributions. Louise was pleased with this, stating that those funds raised will be a key tool in continuing operating the center. However, the Cascade Raptor Center does hope to extend their facilities in the near future. “We would like to move our education side – our education birds and all their aviaries – and build a visitor center with classroom, office, and a much larger clinic,” Shimmel explained.
Shimmel hopes to continue doing what she is passionate about, which is taking care of the birds that find compassion at her facility. When asked what she loves most about working at the Cascade Raptor Center, she said, “The birds; working with them is like a meditation.”