Last week the Teton Wildlife Rehabilitation Center received its migratory bird permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, meaning the nonprofit can now take in some of the valley’s most iconic species, like sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans, as well as all other songbirds and waterfowl.
“This is huge,” said co-founder and executive director Lindsay Jones. “It’s a big federal application and we’ve been working toward it for a couple years.”
Jones and co-founder Renee Seidler submitted the application in October and waited with fingers crossed. They were happy to learn on Feb. 5 that TWRC is now permitted.
The Teton Raptor Center in Wilson does not take in birds other than raptors, so TWRC is now the only licensed facility within a 400-mile radius and will accept anything from injured meadowlarks to ravens to herons.
“Here we have world class habitat for trumpeter swans,” Jones said. “We’ll have a heavy focus on swans, they’ll be our bread and butter.”
A USF&W grant funded the construction of waterfowl ponds on the TWRC property, and the nonprofit is partnering with Zoo Idaho in Pocatello to rehabilitate trumpeter swans for the zoo’s new swan habitat.
With the migratory bird permit, TWRC is now fully prepared to take in all kinds of injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife, excluding bears, wolves, deer, and elk. But there is no indoor facility on its Driggs site, and it’s hard to intake wildlife during the winter with only outdoor enclosures. There wasn’t time to get a foundation poured at the site before winter hit hard and fast in October, but the water line was installed, and TWRC has its structural and architectural drawings ready. TWRC is about to embark on a big capital campaign fundraising push in March.
“We don’t want to go another summer without a building,” Jones said. “With this new federal permit people will see we’re making progress and have even more of a reason to get a building.”
In the mean time, the organization is focusing on education.
“Education is a crucial part of our mission,” Jones said. “It’s incredibly important as the valley expands that we provide programs to community members and work to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.”