by Al Williams
South Canterbury could soon be home to a sanctuary for birds of prey.
A group of residents has formed a trust that aims to provide housing and care for sick, injured and orphaned raptors.
And the ultimate goal is captive breeding.
The New Zealand Raptor Trust was formed last year by a group of people concerned about the wellbeing of harriers, falcons, moreporks and owls.
Trust chairman Vaughan Skea of birds of prey in South Canterbury, as all species, particularly harriers, were vulnerable to habitat destruction.
Mr Skea and trust members photographer Ron Lindsay, veterinarian Marnie Crilly, veterinarian manager Jamie Crilly, schoolteacher Cam Gibb and dairy farmer Richard Paver
are working with the Conservation in an effort to rescue and rehabilitate more birds.
“It’s work in progress. Hopefully, we will be fully active by the end of 2017,” Mr Skea said.
“There is a need for it in our area and it’s something I’ve been interested in for a long time. I trained in falconry and worked with birds of prey in Africa.”
Mr Skea said there was red tape to deal with.
“It’s illegal to handle any New Zealand raptors without a permit . we have applied to Doc and received a permit to look after and rehabilitate birds of prey.”
The trust was looking to build a facility to house birds and was exploring funding options, he said.
“We can only receive a permit to house more birds when we have a facility.
“Over the school holidays I had five occasions where I got called out for harriers being in distress at their nesting sites.”
Mr Skea was caring for Tenzi, a female harrier chick rescued from a field south of Timaru in January.
“A nest went through a mower and she suffered a swollen toe.
“The mother was distressed and squawking. The nest was destroyed, leaving the chick vulnerable and open to attack.
“You assume its mother will abandon it. The best option is to employ falconry techniques and take it out in the field.”
Mr Skea said he anticipated Tenzi would be ready to fly in the coming fortnight.
Doc district office supervisor Chris Coulter department had been working alongside Mr Skea and the trust.
“The Doc Geraldine district office has been involved with Vaughan since 2014 in his pursuit to achieve a wildlife authority to hold and recuperate raptors.
Vaughan had a real passion for falconry and raptors. We assisted Vaughan back in June 2016 when he started to apply for his wildlife authority by providing support, information and detail of the type of facility he would need to build to meet our requirements.”
Ms Coulter said a facility would give South Canterbury “a wonderful resource then for caring for any injured harrier, falcon or owl”.
“Just having Vaughan being an approved authority to care for harriers has made a huge difference to our bird rescue response capabilities.”
Anyone keen to get involved is encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.