CRESO
Clinch River Raptor Center

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The Clinch River Raptor Center (CRRC) is a state and federally permitted facility that utilizes the talents and efforts of student and community volunteers to rehabilitate injured birds of prey.  The program was initiated in 1984 as a part of the Anderson County Schools Ecology curriculum.  Over 600 students have participated in the program since its inception. The program is designed to involve area students, especially those at Clinton Middle School where the center is located, in all aspects of raptor rehabilitation, including training in animal behavior, medical techniques, and natural history.  A vital function of the center is to involve students in the presentation of public education out-reach programs.  An informed public is essential for helping insure the long-term health of raptor populations. Over the past nineteen years, educational programs have been presented to thousands of people.
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A major contribution to the success of the raptor center has been the countless hours given by local veterinarians to treat injured raptors. The efforts of Dr. Mark Garrett in providing medical treatments and donations of supplies were instrumental to the successful start of the center. The center also works closely with other local vets, including the Oak Ridge Veterinary Hospital and the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Student participants are required to attend an after school class once a week where they learn about rehabilitation techniques, identification of indigenous raptors, and wildlife issues in our area. They also volunteer another day to help with the daily care of birds at the center - cleaning, feeding, keeping records, and observing behavior. Over eleven hundred raptors have been cared for by the center.  Approximately 60% of those birds have been successively treated and released back into the wild.
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The center is comprised of a main building with four indoor rooms and several outdoor cages of various sizes to house injured birds.  The more common species admitted to the center include great horned owls, barred owls, screech owls, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, Cooper's hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and American kestrels. There are six non-releasable birds - a red-tailed hawk, a great horned owl, two screech owls (one red, one gray), and two kestrels (one male, one female) used for educational purposes. Students use professional training techniques in order to condition these birds for presentations.  An example of the conditioning process includes training birds to feed off a glove.  The goal is for both birds and students to be comfortable in front of large audiences.

Directors and volunteers attend professional meetings and workshops in order to stay current on the most up to date rehabilitation techniques. Because the center is regulated by state and federal guidelines, it must maintain high standards of sanitary cage conditions and file yearly reports documenting all aspects of a bird’s admittance, length of stay, and disposition status.  The center provides a brochure that includes information on who to contact and how to safely handle and reduce stress on injured raptors until a volunteer arrives to help.  The raptor center also publishes a quarterly newsletter that includes natural history and case history articles, a list of birds that have been under the center’s care, and information on programs given.