"In the end we will conserve only what we love; We will love only what we understand; We will understand only what we are taught."
~ Baba Dioum
In addition to treating and releasing injured and orphaned wildlife, The Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute is home to many permanent residents - our non-releasable education animals.
Each education animal here at The Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute has a story behind it. All but three started out functioning in the wild, but something happened (usually human induced) that caused injuries severe enough that it could no longer survive in the wild. Our goal is to make their lives here as comfortable as possible, physically and mentally. This means they have proper caging, nutritional food and vitamins, a companion of their own kind when possible, and periodic checkups by a veterinarian.
Ladybird is a Red-tailed Hawk and she has the saddest story of them all. She suffered a gunshot wound to her wing, and her metacarpals were shattered.
Although it is now a felony, shooting hawks has historically been part of the culture in rural mountains. Years ago, it was believed by farmers, that Hawks were responsible for taking many of their chickens, back then their livestock put food on the table and was vital to their survival. Due to this story hawks have been given a bad rap in the rural mountains and have been nicknamed "chicken hawks." For generations people have taught their children that "The only good Hawk is a dead Hawk." People are generally good and well intentioned, but it is because of this teaching and tradition that Hawks are still being hunt down today, often by people who do not even have chickens!
It is critically important to educate children and adults about the important role these magnificent birds of prey play in controlling rodent populations.
Cloudfeather is a partial Albino Red-tailed Hawk, he was hit by a car and suffered a wing fracture and eye damage.
Sasquatch is a Great Horned Owl, he was found as a very young nestling on the ground underneath a tree. His wing had been torn off. We do not know how this happened.
Photo by: Kim Costner