Birds of Prey are Part of Island Workforce

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The Raptors, a wildlife sanctuary in Duncan, specializes in training and working with captive-bred birds of prey. Along with the educational programs — aimed at raising awareness and promoting conservation — their trained falcons, hawks and eagles work at airports, landfills, industrial and agricultural sites across Canada, providing wildlife management.

“At an airport, birds on the runway are a serious safety issue, so one of the ways we can mitigate that is by flying predatory raptors to chase those [other] birds away, mitigating bird-strike risk and improving aviation safety,” says The Raptors general manager Robyn Radcliffe.

As for landfills, Environment Canada requires the sites to have vector control because so many seagulls use landfills as a food source.

“One of the main issues with the gulls feeding on the garbage is that they can spread disease and spread garbage to neighbouring areas,” says Radcliffe. “It’s also a safety and health hazard for workers, so we come in and birds like Magnum [pictured above] will fly around and chase the gulls away.”

Along with their working time, the birds at the centre do get to fly free everyday.

“Sometimes they go soar for five minutes, sometimes they’re gone for an hour,” Radcliffe says. “They choose to come back because we have this relationship with them. It’s pretty profound.”