CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Sunday night’s snowstorm caused a Northwest Louisiana wildlife rescue organization to lose an important space needed for animals.
The non-profit Wildlife Education Rehabilitation of Louisiana, WELRA, rescues injured wildlife in northwest Louisiana and rehabilitates them to be released back into the wild. During the snowstorm, they lost their bird enclosure. The hawks living inside were not hurt. However, the weight of the snow caused their home to completely collapse.
“Well the top is completely damaged and it’s going to have to be replaced. Our builder is going to be assessing damage to the sides and poles that could cause problems when we replace the roof. The door was also completely off,” said Dr. Gia Morgan, WERLA veterinarian and president.
The hawks had to be moved to a separate, smaller pen in the meantime. It’s not big enough for their long-term care. Most birds WERLA rescues have wing injuries. Dr. Morgan said the enclosure that was damaged is a part of their rehab process to test flight capabilities.
“We can monitor their flight. Are they going back and forth, are they turning, are they landing properly? Also, if they’re landing on their perches after they feed, it’s important to see if they can go back to hunting.”
It takes a special netting to house hawks and owls, plus labor and equipment, so they expect the repairs to cost several thousand dollars. They’re asking for community donations to rebuild.
“There’s not many places that do rehabilitation. It’s such an important thing to do. For animals, we kind of get into their space and this is a way to give back to them,” said WERLA Vice President Christy Chapman.
Chapman said the coronavirus pandemic affected their donation supply with public events having to cancel.
At the same time, they received more calls from the public to rescue wildlife because the hurricanes that also hit displaced many animals from their habitats.
“This past year we took in 1,100 animals and there were 350 that were birds,” Chapman said.