‘Flight pen’ built with help of Entergy Arkansas poles and dollars
El Paso, Ark. – A true team effort is
giving injured Arkansas eagles a new lease on life after Entergy stepped in to
fill the gap in resources needed for a new rehabilitation facility.
With a contribution of materials and
cash from Entergy, the dream of raptor rehabilitator Rodney Paul has become a
reality with the construction of a 20 x 100-foot “flight pen” in El Paso in
White County. For the first time in central Arkansas, sick and injured eagles
have a safe haven in which to recover from life-threatening injuries. The
facility is being dedicated into service and displayed to the public 11 a.m.
White County Facility Helps Return Injured Eagles to the Wild
rehabilitator Rodney Paul inside the new eagle flight pen built with
materials and cash supplied by the Entergy Environmental Initiatives Fund.
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With poles and funding supplied by
Entergy shareholders in the form of an Entergy Environmental Initiatives Grant,
labor by military volunteers, oversight provided by a local construction company (S and S
Home Construction), support by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the
daily work and leadership of Paul, the pen has already had several inhabitants.
It was home to a bald eagle that was released in October and currently holds
four red-tail hawks.
The opportunity to help came to
Entergy’s attention when Entergy Corp. environmental analyst Brandon DeVito was
discussing avian management issues with Karen Rowe of the Arkansas Game & Fish
Commission in the spring of this year. Rowe mentioned the eagle flight pen
project to DeVito and the fact that it was stalled for lack of sufficient
funding. DeVito then pursued and secured a grant from the Entergy Environmental
Initiatives Fund. The flight pen project is part of an overall avian protection
plan that Entergy is currently developing to submit to the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service in 2011.
Paul is the full-time proprietor of
the not-for-profit Raptor Rehab of Central Arkansas at El Paso. He lives on the
same property as the new flight pen, where there are also nine other smaller
With the addition of the eagle flight
pen at El Paso, there are now three flight pens fit for eagles in Arkansas. The
other two are in extreme western Arkansas.
“This facility has been a long-term
need of the state, and a longtime personal dream of mine,” said Paul. “Until now
we had nowhere in central or eastern Arkansas for eagle rehabilitation. Now we
do. The magnificent birds that are referred to us for rehabilitation deserve no
less, and I’m thankful for all the parties that had a hand in making this
Entergy Arkansas provided 26 utility
poles to make up the framework of the structure. The poles and a monetary
donation added up to $13,000 worth of support for the project. This funding was
provided by Entergy shareholders through the Entergy Environmental Initiatives
Actual construction of the pen began
in June and was completed Oct. 10. Entergy crews set 24 of the poles in the
ground, S and S Home Construction served as general contractor, and five Marines
from Cherry Point, N.C., who were training at the Little Rock Air Force Base,
spent 80 hours of their time over three weekends in October helping build the
Future maintenance and ongoing
operational costs are entirely the responsibility of Paul. However, he is
looking for ongoing support for the project. Long term, he is looking for an
individual or organization to which to bequeath the property and facilities so
that the raptor rehab work will continue well into the future.
To be an eagle rehabilitator, one
must hold a special permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, be
experienced in raptor rehabilitation, and have an appropriate facility.
While the flight pen was built
specifically to accommodate bald eagles and golden eagles, it can also be used
for the rehabilitation of any large raptor, including red-tailed hawks, black
and turkey vultures, great horned owls and northern harriers.
Injured birds are referred to Paul by
the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Typical traumas include collisions with
vehicles or manmade structures, illegal shooting, and lead poisoning from
ingesting lead bullets from carcasses and lead fishing weights.
Except when a visit to a veterinarian
is necessary, care for the birds in rehab is strictly hands-off to keep them
from becoming socialized to humans. They are protected in the pen and fed what
they would naturally eat in the wild, which ranges from fish to rodents to deer
meat to trout. The pen holds 3-4 eagles at one time, but it’s unusual to have
that many at once.
Rehabilitation usually takes from a
few weeks to six months. Then they are released into the wild. Bald eagles are
released at DeGray Lake or Greers Ferry Lake. Paul has permission to release
other raptors on a nearby landowner’s property.
In addition to the raptors in rehab,
the Little Rock zoo will bring several unreleasable birds they take care of for
educational purposes. They include a bald eagle, an osprey, a turkey vulture, a
red-shoulder hawk and a juvenile Mississippi kite.
“There is no way I can adequately
express my thanks to Entergy and also to Karen Rowe with the Arkansas Game &
Fish Commission for making this possible,” Paul said.
Entergy Arkansas, Inc. provides
electricity to 687,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Corporation is an
integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and
retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with
approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the
second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers
electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi