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WSU Raptor Club wants to protect birds of prey

PULLMAN, Wash. - The WSU Raptor Club is one of the only clubs on campus that allows students and community members to interact directly with wildlife without any prior experience.

Mia Patterson, social media specialist for the College of Veterinary Medicine, is the public relations officer for the Raptor Club. She joined in 2017 because of her interest in wildlife education.

“I was originally really nervous because I had no veterinary experience,” Patterson said. “The whole group was so warm and welcoming with teaching handling abilities. This kind of group really helps build confidence.”

Raptors are defined as birds of prey, such as owls, hawks and eagles, which hunt live animals for their own survival. While these birds are powerful predators in their own habitats, federal and state laws protect them from the risks of human interaction.

The WSU Raptor Club helps protect raptors unable to return to the wild due to injury or illness, and teaches members of the community about wildlife conservation while doing so.

“I get educated on a daily basis,” Patterson said. “I get to learn about reading bird signs and how to work with the birds. I also get to teach college students and kindergartners about these fascinating birds.”

The WSU Raptor Club was founded in 1981. According to the organization’s website, its founding bird, Charlie, was a red-tailed hawk brought to WSU after being hit by a car and suffering shoulder injuries that rendered him unable to fly. He died in 2014 at the age of 33, making him the oldest-documented red-tailed hawk.

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