Fire at World Center Destroys Building and Birds
9 June 1996At approximately 11:00 pm on 9 June 1996, the Imprint Barn at the World Center for Birds of Prey had burned to the ground. The barn housed ten endangered falcons; six Aplomado Falcons and four Peregrine Falcons. All were lost in the fire. The barn was a 19-chambered wooden pole barn with a metal exterior that measured 37' by 88'. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
The male Peregrine Falcons provided semen for approximately half of the annual production of that species. This year approximately 50 young were fathered by them. The Aplomado Falcons were less productive since the birds were younger and the program is newer. The loss, however, is more significant since there were only two wild nesting pairs of Aplomado Falcons in the United States this spring.
"This is a setback to the Peregrine Falcon and Aplomado Falcon projects. It was more than the death of ten falcons, it was the loss of ten friends that we have invested thousands of hours and considerable emotion in," stated Dr. Bill Burnham, President of The Peregrine Fund. "The Peregrine Falcons which were lost fathered about half of the young this year and the six Aplomado Falcons were just about to reach sexual maturity. Starting over is a difficult task since it takes two to four years for these species to reach sexual maturity. We must now decide whether to hold back young originally scheduled to be released to the wild," finished Burnham.
The World Center for Birds of Prey exists on 580 acres near Boise, Idaho. The facility consists of seven different structures that house just over two hundred birds. The structures are spaced apart to minimize the risk of fire spreading among the structures. In addition, the endangered birds are interspersed between the various structures to further reduce the risk of eliminating an entire breeding stock.
Insurance is expected to assist but not cover all the costs necessary to re-construct and equip the facility. The remaining funds will hopefully be raised from the private sector. The structure was constructed in 1984 by a dedicated group of volunteers. Funds for construction were provided primarily by Ore-Ida and the H.J. Heinz Foundation. The individual birds which were lost in the fire were uninsurable.
The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 at Cornell University in response to the catastrophic decline of the Peregrine Falcon throughout much of North America. The efforts to save this species resulted in breakthroughs in the field of endangered species research. In addition to the Peregrine Falcon, The Peregrine Fund is involved with conservation projects around the world with species such as the California Condor, Philippine Eagle, Harpy Eagle, Aplomado Falcon, Mauritius Kestrel, Orange- breasted Falcon, `Alala or Hawaiian Crow, Hawaiian forest birds, and other species. In addition, The Peregrine Fund has numerous other programs around the world that focus on preserving endangered environments (e.g., forests, wetlands, etc.) and improving local people's conservation ability.
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