The Illinois Raptor Center rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife native to Illinois. The IRC specializes in birds of prey - hawks, falcons, owls, and eagles.
Wild birds and mammals passing through our center have been hit by cars, injured by cats and dogs, flown into power lines or plate glass windows, or have been hit by mowers or other machinery. Some are displaced by storms or by the removal of dead trees. Ninety percent of the injuries these animal receive are not due to natural causes. That is where human kindness must step in and lend a hand.
The Admission Process
When a wild animal is brought into our wildlife hospital it is admitted by a director or volunteer at the front desk. The rescuer is asked to fill out an admitting form that gives us information such as where the animal was found, date and times, what the circumstances were, what environment the animal was in, and if the animal was given any food or treatment by the rescuer. All these answers will help us understand what the animal's problems or injuries may be.
There Is No Charge
The IRC does not charge a fee for services to wildlife. We ask the rescuer for their address and phone number because it is required by law but that information is kept private and is not shared in any way with others. It is also necessary if for some reason we need more information about the animal or discover something medically wrong with the animal that could have been passed to humans. This has never happened by the way!
While the rescuer fills out the admission form, the volunteer will put the animal into one of the admission cages located near the front desk. The volunteer will give the animal an admission control number. That number will be written on the admit form and on a yellow plastic card that is attached to the door of the admission cage. This card will follow the animal throughout its stay at the IRC. The control number, species, date and cage number is then written on large information boards in the admitting room.
The Rehabilitation Process
As soon as it is possible, the animal will be taken to the lab area of the hospital for examination by the directors. The animal will undergo a thorough body check to locate any injuries such as wounds, lacerations, parasites, burns or broken bones. The animal's weight will be logged. If the animal is a bird species the head, wings, tail and both tarsus will be measured. Body temperature and blood samples are then taken. Blood samples will be transferred to Millikin University and test results will be sent back to the IRC.
All of this data will help us decide if the animal can be rehabilitated and returned to the wild successfully and what actions can best be taken for the well-being of the animal. It is the rehabilitator's job - our job - to weigh all of the data and information against the natural history facts about the species in order to make that decision. We must put all human feelings aside and make a decision based on what is actually best for the animal.
Sadly there are beautiful animals with injuries too severe to be repaired. In those cases we humanely euthanize the animal to relieve its pain and suffering as quickly as we can. If the animal is a candidate for treatment and rehabilitation we select the best option to continue. Sometimes hydration and tube feeding are necessary. Sometimes cage rest is best. For head trauma we can administer oxygen. For shock we can put the animal in a warm incubator. We are able to treat wounds and stitch up lacerations and raise orphaned babies to release without imprinting them. For broken bones and surgeries we transfer the animal to a veterinarian. After treatment or surgery the animal will return to the IRC for rehabilitation.
If a rescuer asks if they can find out the disposition of the animal they rescued, the IRC will give them the animal's admit number. Hundreds of animals are admitted to the IRC every year so we ask that rescuers do not call to request that information. Furthermore we don't have that information by the phones. Rescuers will be asked to wait a few weeks and then E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Directors will research the animal's records at the hospital and answer the E-mail at the office as soon as they can.
Call Before Attempting To Rescue An Animal
Often times, the IRC can assess the situation over the phone. They may be able to determine if the animal really needs help. See our page on "Silent Saves". Also, please refer to our, "How To Help Without Hurting" page. This brochure covers important common sense information that will help keep you, your property, your pets and our native wildlife safe. Call us at (217) 963-6909. It is always the goal of the IRC to keep wild birds and mammals in the wild.