The Rocky Mountain Raptor Program has appreciated the almost 30 years of outreach that we have been able to provide at the CSU Environmental Learning Center through our Raptor Enclosures. Our partnership with the ELC and the Warner College of Natural Resources in this endeavor has been and continues to be very important to us.
When avian influenza became a serious threat in 2015, we moved those raptors on display to our main facility on Vine Drive in order to provide a higher level of biosecurity and monitoring to protect these birds. The highly virulent nature of this strain of avian influenza and the unpredictability of its spread via migratory waterfowl present a high risk to the safety of our birds.
We have explored the possibility of constructing enclosures that would allow us to return the raptors to the ELC. The current enclosures have experienced a great deal of weathering and would have required significant repairs in the near future. However, their current design does not offer the biosecurity needed to protect them. In order for us to return raptors to the ELC, we would need to tear down the current enclosures and redesign a new enclosure that would provide a much higher level of biosecurity, providing us the ability to disinfect pathways and high traffic areas. This would require areas of concrete and a sanitary drain.
Our estimate is that the cost could easily approach—and possibly exceed—$75,000. The RMRP does not have funding for that at this time; we have much higher priorities that we need to spend our resources on. Additionally, the amount of concrete required and the construction of a sanitary drain in that area would be problematic.
Given the materials, labor, and design required to rebuild the raptor enclosures at the ELC and the lack of funding available, we have regretfully decided that we cannot return the raptors to the ELC. We will really miss this valuable partnership!
We hope to add more public events at our center on Vine Drive to give people more opportunities to see the birds. In the meantime, please check our website and Facebook pages for upcoming opportunities to meet the raptors. Throughout the summer, the raptors are somewhere in the community on most weekends.