The Raptor Rehabilitation Project includes veterinary students, community members and other MU students who volunteer their time and effort in rehabilitating injured large birds and caring for resident birds who are unable to be released back into the wild. These volunteers also help raise public awareness about wildlife by giving presentations throughout central Missouri, offering educational programs on birds to teach people about the ecological and cultural importance of birds of prey.

This rehab is for the birds — literally, and at least a couple of them from Lake of the Ozarks are now healing up with help from MU’s Raptor Rehabilitation Project.
One of the newest birds to come to the program is a pelican recovered from the Lake of the Ozarks. Newly christened Luther, the large water bird was found tangled in fishing line and was taken to the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital as part of this service and education organization that operates on a volunteer basis.
The Raptor Rehabilitation Project includes veterinary students, community members and other MU students who volunteer their time and effort in rehabilitating injured large birds and caring for resident birds who are unable to be released back into the wild. These volunteers also help raise public awareness about wildlife by giving presentations throughout central Missouri, offering educational programs on birds to teach people about the ecological and cultural importance of birds of prey.
According to their website, raptors brought to the veterinary hospital as part of this program have usually been injured by flying into objects. Other common injuries include gunshot wounds, eye wounds and complications resulting from habitat loss.
While a pelican is not exactly a raptor, it is a big bird! The volunteers of the project recently did a callout on Facebook seeking donations of fresh or frozen fish — or other support — to help feed Luther while he recovers from injuries sustained while he was caught in the line. According to the folks at Raptor Rehabilitation Project, pelicans can eat up to four pounds of fish per day.
MU’s veterinary hospital is also currently the home of a well known bald eagle from the Lake of the Ozarks. Elsie, as she has been named, entered the Raptor Rehabilitation Project in May 2017 due to a fractured wing. She is famous here, being featured in video and photos on the Facebook page Lake of the Ozarks Eagles, started in 2010, after she and her mate, Einstein, nested in the area in August 2009.
With a great deal of interest in Elsie from her public, the Raptor Rehabilitation Project makes regular updates on her recovery.
With two open fractured bones in one of her wings, Elsie has had to overcome infections around the fracture site while healing. The latest update, made January 9, 2018, reported that radiographs indicated the broken bone had completely healed, though it was somewhat malaligned. While unable to fly at this point, she is apparently improving, according to information from the program, becoming more active and able to now jump onto higher perches.
According to her caretakers, Elsie needs more time to recuperate and should be able to improve her wing flexibility and strength. They are “guarded, but optimistic” about Elsie regaining her ability to fly, hunt and escape predators, and thus be released back into the wild.
Go to http://raptorrehab.cvm.missouri.edu to check out more about supporting the program, getting a raptor presentation or how to get help caring for an injured raptor. Check out Raptor Rehabilitation Project on Facebook to follow the progress of these and other injured birds.