Hootie and Dodger, newest raptors at Pittsburg State University Nature Reach, made their public debut Thursday night during a program scheduled by Sperry-Galligar Audubon.

Hootie and Dodger, newest raptors at Pittsburg State University Nature Reach, made their public debut Thursday night during a program scheduled by Sperry-Galligar Audubon.
Hootie, a great horned owl, came to PSU from the Eagle Valley Raptor Center near Wichita. Delia Lister, Nature Reach director, said that the bird accidentally became imprinted on human beings during rehabilitation treatment, and is now unable to function in the wild.
“The rehabilitator tried to release him on three occasions, but he kept coming back,” she said.
Great horned owls are among the largest North American owls.
“Some people call them flying tigers,” Lister said. “They are one of the few things that will take down skunks.”
It helps, she added, that owls have superb vision but a very poor sense of smell.
Also new is Dodger, a male American kestrel, also known as a sparrow hawk.
“He was found in the Pittsburg area, in an upside down picnic table at a ball park,” Lister said. “His feet were injured and his toes became necrotic — the tissue began to die — so they had to be amputated.”
Both birds will spend their lives at the center and be used for educational work.
“There’s no better way to teach a child to love the outdoors and appreciate nature than to use live animals,” Lister said.
Meagan Duffee, PSU biology student, talked about falconry, and showed Zoey, a red-tailed hawk that she trapped Sunday near the St. Louis Airport.
“Falconry is one of the oldest sports, and it’s also one of the most regulated,” Duffee said. “You have to have state and federal permits to trap birds, you have to pass examinations and inspections from wildlife officers.”
But the sport was even more tightly regulated in the past.
“It has been called the sport of kings, and there were some birds that only royalty could fly,” Duffee said. “If anyone else tried to fly these birds, they could be put to death.”
She plans to train Zoey to hunt quail, rabbits and squirrels.
“Actually, she knows how to hunt already, but I’m teaching her to hunt better,” Duffee said. “If I decide to release her, she’ll forget her training in a couple of days.”
Sally Imhof, PSU biology graduate, discussed her work in wildlife rehabilitation. She has worked with songbirds and squirrels, and currently has some baby squirrels.
Imhof also talked about a State Animal Response Team workshop she attended in Wichita, and the need for a county team to deal with animals during times of emergencies.
“Not many counties in Kansas have a county program,” she said. “I’ve talked with Eldon Bedene, who’s the Crawford County emergency preparedness director about this, and I believe he’d like for someone to take this on.”
Imhof said that the Crawford County Fairgrounds are the county designated area where animals, especially livestock, can be taken after a disaster.
“We also need a place where people can go and keep their pets with them,” she said. “Most people don’t want to be separated from their pets.”