Center raising funds to free those born free

From the time Jaye Moore was a young girl, she has been awed by the power and majesty of birds of prey and made it her life's mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release as many of the injured raptors as she can.

In a small wildlife sanctuary in Sequim, Moore tends to the needs of eagles, hawks and owls with the ultimate goal of seeing them fly again. She founded the nonprofit Northwest Raptor Center 20 years ago and has, with the assistance of law enforcement, Fish and Wildlife, Greywolf Veterinary Hospital and a cadre of 10 dedicated volunteers, helped hundreds of birds and mammals.

Although Moore has rehabilitated bear cubs and cougars and coyotes, her passion is birds of prey.

"My main love is raptors because they are awesome to work with and that they're predators - they're magnificent to me," Moore said.

"As a little kid I can remember being in total awe of eagles, how they move, just everything about them."

Currently, the sanctuary's aviary, at 1051 W. Oak Court, has four bald eagles, two that have been a mated pair for 20 years. Moore will care for them for the rest of their lives because their injuries prohibit them from fending for themselves.

"Unfortunately, I can't return some animals to the wild, so I try to place them in other educational facilities," Moore said.

"The quality of life is more important than its quantity. If an animal can't be used for education, the only humane thing we can do is have it euthanized by a vet."

Man-made problems

Not pretty words, but the alternatives often are worse.

"My heart gets broken day in and day out by the stupid things people do. Two fawns were shot this summer. Who would shoot a fawn? What keeps me going is believing maybe the next animal I can help," she said.

"A lot of times when I'm called, I know deep down in my heart the caller is the one who's done the harm, but I can't prove it. All I can do is pick it up, give it help and hopefully return it to the wild."

A slip of a woman, Moore is licensed by the state and federal Fish and Wildlife departments to rescue and shelter protected animals, including large raptors. She is self-educated in the ways of wild animals, and understanding their habits is key to her work.

"Most of the time, animals don't abandon their young, but nature is a cruel thing. People need to understand they need to let nature take its course," Moore said.

"It's a hard lesson but sometimes it's best."

For example, Moore knows that fledgling raptors tend to fall out of their nests at a certain point in their development. People see them on the ground and want to "rescue them" even when they're walking around.

Her advice is to wait a couple of weeks because the youngsters will have flown off as nature intended.

"Ninety percent of the time they don't need to be rescued. If they look normal, just leave them alone," Moore said.

Facts on fawns

Every spring the center receives "tons of calls on abandoned fawns." Fawn facts that Moore teaches are that a fawn has no scent that predators can sense, so the doe leads it to a protective area and then goes off to feed for 12-15 hours before coming back to nurse.

"People who see fawns alone need to back off and give them space and time. When the doe is ready, the fawn will come to her call."

Moore does take callers' concerns seriously and tries to find out as much information as possible over the phone before going to the site.

"It may take me hours watching with binoculars to determine if there is not a mom," she explained.

"I don't want to take youngsters away from their moms and I have to be 100-percent sure an animal doesn't have a mother before I take it."

If an animal is injured, it's in the veterinarian's care until it's released to the center for strength-building and physical therapy.

'Welfare deer'

Another fact of nature is feeding wildlife is not only illegal, it's dangerous. Moore termed the deer-feeding problem on Diamond Point "horrible" and said it creates what she calls "welfare animals" who begin to demand food from the entire neighborhood.

Of those who feed the deer, Moore said, "They're taking the wild out of the them, which makes them dangerous. It's just wrong to be doing that."

People on a misguided mission to domesticate wild animals aside, Moore said the big payoff for her and her volunteers is when, after being in such bad shape, the animals are able to become healthy, strong and capable of being released.

"It's an incredible feeling," Moore said.

In her role as a wildlife educator, she wants this lesson told:

"We all need to and can learn how to live with our wildlife. As more and more of us move into their habitat, we need to be more sympathetic that we're living with wildlife."



Who: Northwest

Raptor Center

What: 14th annual fundraising auction

When: 1 p.m.- ?, Saturday, Aug. 22

Where: 4734 Sequim-Dungeness Way

Why: The nonprofit center is supported only by donations.

Call 681-2283 for more information

Bring a favorite dish and meat to grill. The Kentucky Bullfrogs and Deadwood Revival will play.

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