Monday, April 20, 2009

New raptor center, wetlands center open in Kansas

Barton County, Kan., now offers two sites likely to attract more birders: Kansas Raptor Center at Great Bend Zoo and Kansas Wetlands Education Center.

Zoo Director Mike Cargill said injured raptors that come to the center go through a step-by-step process. They are rehabilitated in the center's intensive care unit and then go to a critical care unit outside on the zoo grounds.

After that, they will learn to fly while being carefully observed by inmates from the Larned Correctional Facility. The birds will be sent to "large fly pens" at the correctional facility, and inmates will track and record the raptors' movements, Cargill said.

He said being able to use the inmates works well for the project because they can sit and observe the birds for hours at a time.
Operated by Fort Hays State University, the wetlands center will open officially on April 24. It overlooks Cheyenne Bottoms, "the largest inland marsh in the United States and a Ramsar-designated Wetland of International Importance."

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