December 01, 2010
For Immediate Release
David Lewis
New White County Facility Helps Return Injured Eagles to the Wild;

‘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. Nov. 30.

New White County Facility Helps Return Injured Eagles to the Wild

Raptor 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 flight pens.

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 happen.”

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 Fund.

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 facility.

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 and Texas.