December 14, 2017
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  • Mark and Heather Jeweler assisted in banding osprey chicks at Severna Park High School in 2016.
    Photo Provided
    Mark and Heather Jeweler assisted in banding osprey chicks at Severna Park High School in 2016.
  • Heather Jeweler is undergoing an apprenticeship at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds, Maryland.
    Photo Provided
    Heather Jeweler is undergoing an apprenticeship at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds, Maryland.
  • Heather Jeweler is undergoing an apprenticeship at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds, Maryland.
    Photo Provided
    Heather Jeweler is undergoing an apprenticeship at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds, Maryland.
  • Heather Jeweler is undergoing an apprenticeship at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds, Maryland.
    Photo Provided
    Heather Jeweler is undergoing an apprenticeship at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds, Maryland.
  • “The birds are in a captive environment in a rehab facility,” explained Mark Jeweler. “We’re providing food and keeping their living spaces clean, so they’re completely dependent on us.”
    Photo Provided
    “The birds are in a captive environment in a rehab facility,” explained Mark Jeweler. “We’re providing food and keeping their living spaces clean, so they’re completely dependent on us.”

Severna Park Couple’s Raptor Rescue Nonprofit Will Soon Take Flight

Zach Sparks
picture
View Bio
December 5, 2017

Mark And Heather Jeweler Seek To Rehabilitate Birds Of Prey And Educate The Public

Mark and Heather Jeweler are birds of a feather. Both are passionate about animal welfare, a cause that has given them a new sense of purpose over the last two years. “This represents the vision for the second half of our lives,” Heather said.

Seeing that a pair of ospreys was nesting on a live power line pole during construction of Severna Park High School in March 2015, Mark and Heather took action. Through collaboration with HDOnTap, Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) and Comcast, the Jewelers were able to get an osprey stand and a webcam installed at the school.

Now, the couple has established Maryland Raptor Rescue, a nonprofit that will help birds of prey, such as owls, ospreys, hawks, eagles, falcons and vultures. Both Mark and Heather are captivated by the power, beauty and intelligence of raptors.

“The success of that project and the public support gave us the encouragement and confidence we needed to make the decision to dedicate our future to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of birds of prey, and to educate the public about them,” Mark explained.

The Jewelers must undergo training and apprenticeship to become rehabbers. They must also set up a well-equipped and hospitable facility, and form a network of support including other rehabilitators along with volunteers and veterinarians.

Currently, there is just one rehabilitator in Maryland that is dedicated solely to raptors: Suzanne Shoemaker at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds.

“Many people who have called us or Owl Moon for a rescue talked about how difficult it was to find someone to help and in a timely manner,” Mark said. “Being able to respond quickly to rescue a raptor can be a matter of life and death.”

Once they are fully trained, Mark and Heather will be akin to paramedics. Because they are not veterinarians, they cannot handle surgery or sutures, they cannot prescribe medicine, but they provide extensive supportive care, rehabilitation and reconditioning.

“The birds are in a captive environment in a rehab facility,” Mark said. “We’re providing food and keeping their living spaces clean, so they’re completely dependent on us.”

Establishing Maryland Raptor Rescue was no easy feat, especially because the couple not only needed to create the nonprofit but also have to meet state and federal requirements to become rehabilitators. To obtain a wildlife rehabilitator permit from the Department of Natural Resources, which enforces Maryland laws, a person must complete 200 hours of care for wildlife under the supervision of a Master Rehabilitator over a minimum of two years over four seasons. At the end of the training period, that person also has to enlist the services of a veterinarian to provide medical services.

To secure a rehabilitation permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a person must adhere to guidelines included in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“A federal migratory bird rehabilitation permit authorizes citizens to take, transport and temporarily possess sick, injured and orphaned migratory birds for rehabilitation purposes,” said Bryan Kluever, permits branch chief for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Bird Program in the Northeast region. “A large number of migratory birds are injured every year, but fortunately, many of these birds end up being released back into the wild due to the hard work and diligence of properly permitted rehabilitation centers. Citizen support of rehabilitation centers increases the probability that injured migratory birds will be both cared for and, when possible, returned to the wild.”

The Jewelers are well on their way to meeting those requirements. They believe they have surpassed 200 hours, but they have one year of training left, so they expect to complete the process by early 2019.

They began an apprenticeship under Shoemaker at Owl Moon Raptor Center in January 2017. They also volunteered for a time at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Delaware.

“It’s a lot of observing, and I would liken it to what a residency would be like for a doctor,” Mark said, “watching someone do for a number of times before you get to do.”

To further their training and knowledge of raptor husbandry, they attended the “Care and Management of Captive Raptors” workshop at the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center in October, spending close to $4,000 of their own money on lodging, transportation and meals. “The workshop had a focus on captive birds for education but also covered clinical treatments,” Heather said.

Their newfound knowledge can help them treat raptors, but they also need to make physical accommodations for their temporary guests. The Jewelers plan to set up a 1,100-foot facility in their basement as well as outdoor cages, known as mews.

“Through various places we volunteered, we have seen different rehab facilities,” Mark said, “from the kind that grows organically after starting in someone’s basement — it is unplanned but will grow, and they’re making do with what they have — to the well-funded ones that have their own building, have a vet on their staff and are helping to mature the rehab process itself through research. We want to find our place somewhere in the middle, but [we envision] a more professionally maintained facility even though we’re running it out of our house.”

While preparing their facility, the Jewelers are asking for help. Because they are volunteers and do not receive any state or federal funds, they are completely reliant on the support of donors.

“During this stage of preparing our facility, our most desperate needs are financial support, and businesses or skilled individuals donating assistance and materials toward our goals - such as completing the design, construction, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.,” Mark said. “During this end-of-year season as people are thinking ahead about their taxes, we'd ask that they please consider generously supporting our efforts with their 100 percent tax-deductible donations.”

Whether its donations or calling the appropriate number when spotting an injured bird, there are plenty of ways people can help.

“When helping an injured raptor, people feel they've done something good,” Heather said. “It takes them out of their daily lives and makes them more aware of their environment and the wildlife around them.”

To learn more, visit www.marylandraptorrescue.org. The Jewelers are excited for the future, but they want to ensure that the facility is ready for them when they are ready for it.

“I know from experience by talking to others about this, you’re the plane 40,000 feet in the sky,” Mark said, “so you want to make sure everything is in shape before you take flight.”


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