When the West Virginia Raptor Center (WVRC) recently received a call from a Randolph County, WV resident that an adult osprey had been discovered in the ditch along the road, Executive Director Collin Waybright s immediately went to the site to assess the injured raptor. When Waybright discovered the osprey had suffered a gunshot wound, he had it transferred to Cheat Lake Animal Hospital in Morgantown, a 24-hour full-service animal hospital, for treatment. As a result of his injury, part of his wing had to be removed.
This is the type of work that the WVRC has become known for. The nonprofit 501(c)3, formerly known as the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center, was established in 1983 by founder Michael Book. The organization’s multiple goals include rehabilitating birds of prey, training educational ambassadors, providing public environmental education programs, and providing scientific data to share with other facilities and universities. Current executive director Waybright, who is also a Master Class Falconer, took over in 2021 when it looked like the facility was in danger of closing its doors permanently. He began the enormous task of revamping, renovating and continuing the strong heritage of the center by providing a much needed service.
The large raptor rescued by Waybright, which has an average wingspan of five feet in diameter, likely took up residence along a nearby river, a natural habitat for the osprey. Since no hunting season is open at this time, it is likely that someone who is uninformed of the importance of these birds to the environment has shot the osprey. “This bird was taken to Cheat Lake Animal Hospital for emergency care. Part of his wing was amputated so he can never be released into the wild again, but could be used as an educational ambassador or display bird in a school setting,” said Waybright.
This was a rescue that involved the community, WVRC, Cheat Lake Animal Hospital and the Appalachian Avian Conservation Center (ACCA). “When it comes to birds, no matter what it takes, we use all of our resources and all work together to get them the care they need,” said Marsha Waybright, spokesperson for WVRC. “The beautiful thing is that when the community and different agencies come together to provide the necessary care for a bird, it really is about the birds!”
Located near Morgantown, WV, ACCA is also a 501(c)3 organization. Its mission is similar to that of the WVRC in that it works to conserve the region’s wild birds through research, l education and rehabilitation. They are licensed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to treat and rehabilitate injured, sick, or orphaned wild birds, including raptors, eagles, songbirds, waterfowl, waterfowl, and seabirds.
The WVRC is supported by the Hickman Veterinary Animal Hospital, West Virginia DNR, US Fish and Wildlife Dept., The Laurel Fork Falconer, Laurel Fork Farm, and Laurel River Club Bed & Breakfast. To donate to the West Virginia Raptor Center or plan an educational program for your organization/event/classroom, please visit the WVRC website at wvraptorcenter.org or call (304) 366-2867.