Al­taLink and the Al­berta Birds of Prey Foun­da­tion re­lease re­ha­bil­i­tated rap­tors

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Front Page -

“Be safe!” Those are the words that Jo­hanne Pi­card-Thomp­son, Al­taLink’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate ser­vices said when re­leas­ing an adorable short-eared owl back into its nat­u­ral habi­tat.

The re­lease was one of five rap­tor (birds of prey) releases that Al­taLink par­tic­i­pated in with the Al­berta Birds of Prey Foun­da­tion at Cot­ton­wood Park in Leth­bridge, over­look­ing the Old­man River Val­ley. Two of the birds were res­cued by Al­taLink em­ploy­ees over the last cou­ple of years – a great horned owl and a red-tailed hawk.

“It was a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to come full cir­cle and be able to re­lease the re­ha­bil­i­tated red-tailed hawk that we res­cued last year,” said Aaron An­der­son, en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vi­sor at Al­taLink.

Luck­ily, through Al­taLink’s Avian Pro­tec­tion Plan, em­ploy­ees know what to do if and when they see birds in need.

“Al­taLink was the first Cana­dian util­ity to de­velop an Avian Pro­tec­tion Plan de­signed to re­duce the im­pact trans­mis­sion fa­cil­i­ties can have on birds,” said Nikki Heck, en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vi­sor. “The plan in­cludes set stan­dards and pro­cesses that al­low our en­vi­ron­ment and field teams to work quickly when an in­jured bird is found to en­sure it re­ceives the proper care it needs.”

By fol­low­ing the right pro­cesses and get­ting the birds the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion they need, they are given the chance to soar again.

“It’s re­ally nice to see them back in the wild,” said Pi­card-Thomp­son. “We have worked closely with the Birds of Prey Cen­tre for many years and we have seen the great work that they do and their ded­i­ca­tion to the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and con­ser­va­tion of Al­berta’s birds. It’s very re­ward­ing, es­pe­cially when Al­taLink em­ploy­ees played an im­por­tant role in res­cu­ing some of them.”

Al­taLink has been a long-time sup­porter of the cen­tre, in­clud­ing help­ing them build a 650-foot walk­ing trail around the wet­land. Called the Al­taLink Shore­line Trail, this trail con­nects the thou­sands of vis­i­tors that come to the cen­tre ev­ery year with the many forms of wildlife that are found on or near the wa­ter.

“We are so grate­ful to have Al­taLink as a gen­er­ous sup­porter of our fa­cil­ity,” said Colin Weir, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Al­berta Birds of Prey Foun­da­tion. “Since Al­taLink em­ploy­ees often res­cue birds they en­counter during their work trav­els across Al­berta, what bet­ter way to show our ap­pre­ci­a­tion than by invit­ing them to re­lease the birds they saved them­selves. Al­taLink’s thought­ful sup­port for our en­vi­ron­men­tal work is more ap­pre­ci­ated than ever, es­pe­cially during these most chal­leng­ing times.”

The Birds of Prey Cen­tre is now closed for the sea­son but will con­tinue to ac­cept in­jured birds through­out the year.

Pho­tos by Jaime Ve­dres Pho­tog­ra­phy

Nikki Heck an en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vi­sor with Al­taLink holds a re­ha­bil­i­tated owl and sets it free.

Aaron An­der­son, an en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vi­sor with Al­taLink holds a red tailed hawk.

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