South Plains Wildlife
Rehabilitation Center, Inc.
Caring for Wildlife Since 1988
On February 8, 2017, SPWRC received a Bald Eagle from near Hartley, Texas. The Eagle was reported down by an individual, the Game Warden who responded to the call contacted Linda Durante and her associate, Karen, who picked up the bird to perform volunteer transportation. The Eagle was brought to Lubbock, as our facility is the only rehabilitation center in the Panhandle authorized to receive and treat these raptors. In the pictures above, Gail Barnes, State and Federal Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, is performing triage on the bird to determine the health of the patient and identify all the symptoms he is exhibiting.
This Eagle was in critical condition and in need of immediate treatment. Gail, Executive Director of SPWRC, has extensive knowledge in raptor maladies and recognized the warning signs of lead poisoning. There was no time to wait for blood test results as the bird was in dire need of intervention. She and her staff began a frantic search for a source of chelation therapy drugs and were able to obtain them by the following morning, beginning several weeks of intense treatment in the attempt to save the life of this national symbol. Blood tests later confirmed Gail's diagnosis.
On March 11, 2017, the Bald Eagle was captured in the flight cage at SPWRC and prepared for the transport back to near Hartley, Texas as shown in the above photos. The treatment and healing of this beautiful raptor were highlighted on our Facebook page, which drew attention from "The DoDo", an Internet Magazine. They, in turn, reposted our story and expanded on the lead poisoning issue with an article and pictures of large quantities of Bald Eagles falling prey to this devastating death.
The above picture is the Bald Eagle being released at the exact location he was found. The momentous occasion was witnessed by the Game Warden who picked up the ill raptor, Linda Durante, her son and his girlfriend, with Gail Barnes and Linda Henry transporting the Eagle two and a half hours back to his home territory. He flew a short distance from the release sight, landed, and sat for several minutes. After gaining his bearings, he flew away to resume his life in the wild.
Peach of a Possum
Peach arrived at the Wildlife Center on October 21, 2020; C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E-L-Y hairless. She was hungry, appearing to be 3 to 4 months old and was found all alone by a Good Samaritan who brought her to us. No one at SPWRC had ever seen or heard of this anomaly in all the years of treating wildlife.
Upon conducting research, it was determined Peach suffered from alopecia, an autoimmune disease, which means a sudden loss of hair. After further investigation it was determined her problem was caused by an insufficient diet. Correcting her diet was no problem, however, she faced a real problem of staying warm until she could grow a new coat.
Pictures of Peach were posted on our Facebook page and soon we began receiving all kinds of knitted sweaters to help her through the Winter in style. Peach was named by Jason Marshall, an intern from previous years who, with his brother, were referred to as "The Possum Brothers", for their love of working with this misunderstood species.
Virginia Opossums are considered garbage disposals of the animal world. They eat all the things we want to get rid of such as mice, bugs, ticks, and fleas. They are not considered to be a rabies vector. At least this possum received the much-deserved attention. The story of Peach reached far and wide with calls being received as far away as across-the-pond (the UK). She was featured in "Fort Worth Star Telegram", "Texas Monthly", "People" magazine, the "Today" show, the online magazine "The Dodo", and many other media outlets.
Peach could not be released back to her native habitat because if her diet became insufficient, she would lose her hair and would die due to exposure. A special request was made to the licensing agencies to keep her as an Educational Ambassador. Peach is now a healthy adult and is included in over 100 programs each year for schools, Scout troops, and civic organizations. She spreads awareness of a seldom-seen, nocturnal mammal to the people of the Panhandle/South Plains of Texas and beyond.