The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday January 31st

Raptors, release and rehabilitation: Organization released rehabilitated animals

CLAWS, Inc., released three red-shouldered hawks and one great horned owl on Saturday.

Vinny Mammone, treasurer for Claws Inc., holds one of the organization's permanent residents Khalitra, a great horned owl who is blind in one eye.
Buy Photos Vinny Mammone, treasurer for Claws Inc., holds one of the organization's permanent residents Khalitra, a great horned owl who is blind in one eye.

Twenty to 30 people stood next to a baseball field in Hank Anderson III Community Park, waiting for the birds to take flight.

“We’ve only ever had this happen once but because we did have it happen once, I have to warn people every time we do a release: These birds are not human friendly,” Kindra Mammone, executive director of CLAWS Inc., said. “That means if they fly toward you, they don’t want a hug. So if one of these birds does fly at you, hit the ground.”

Immediately after, Mammone assured the crowd that they have never had anyone injured at an event before.

CLAWS is a nonprofit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in Chapel Hill. They take in hundreds of animals a year — at the moment they are nursing 42 squirrels back to health — some are there for rehabilitation, and some are rescues that will never be reintroduced to the wild.

CLAWS publicly released three red-shouldered hawks and one great horned owl Saturday. All four were brought to CLAWS as nestlings — baby birds unable to fly.

Mammone said normally upon finding a nestling, people are encouraged to place it back in its nest. She also said the popular notion that mothers will kill a baby if it has a human scent is not true.

Vinny Mammone, Kindra’s husband, gave the tossers their training one by one before releasing the birds.

“(Vinny) gives about 30 seconds of very in-depth training. Trust me, no one’s ever gotten hurt doing this,” Mammone told the four bird tossers doing the release.

Kindra Mammone said it takes fewer than 30 seconds from release for the birds to be out of sight.

All four raptors were released within 10 minutes, and the crowd was directed to the gazebo where three large rescue birds were brought out: Tagred, a red-shouldered hawk with a wing amputated at the elbow; Khalitra, a great horned owl; and Grip, an African raven who loves selfies. These birds are just a few in the CLAWS collection of teaching animals, which include an Arctic marble fox, a kinkajou and a Patagonian cavy among many others.

Khalitra is an example of one of the more drastic cases they deal with. She was found facedown, emaciated and blinded in her right eye after being shot.

“She can fly just fine; she just doesn’t always stick the landing,” Vinny Mammone said.

CLAWS is the only rehabilitation center in the four surrounding counties. Kindra Mammone said public events like this release bring attention to the work that CLAWS does in providing care for the animals.

Amanda Bock and her son Peyton had never heard of CLAWS before Saturday.

“We were here for my other son’s baseball game, and we just saw it,” said Bock, an assistant professor of special education at William Peace University. They witnessed the release, and she was able to hold Grip, the African raven.

“(This information is) nice to know if I find an injured bird,” Bock said. “I have in the past found injured birds and tried to find a place to take them. Now I know where to take them.”

@Bella_Lupoli

city@dailytarheel.com



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