January 17th, 2021

Birds of Prey Centrewill face financial crunch

By Jensen, Randy on May 11, 2020.

Herald photo by Ian Martens
Managing director Colin Weir, along with his daughter Aimee, sits with a pair of owlets Thursday at the Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale. The centre currently remains closed to the public but the operation of caring for the birds continues. @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale is looking at a lost season in 2020, and is hoping for community support to help keep them going through the summer.

“For us, we have already made the decision not to open at all for May and June,” says Alberta Birds of Prey Centre managing director Colin Weir.

“Usually we are very busy with schools this time of year É In addition to Lethbridge and area we get schools from Medicine Hat, Milk River, Crowsnest Pass, and even up to Calgary – so those, of course, are all cancelled.

“The other thing that keeps us busy through the summer time is we take quite a few of our specially trained educational birds to special events across Alberta. So this might be fairs, visiting groups, business groups up in Banff and Lake Louise -those are all blanket cancelled 100 per cent, and probably won’t come back until 2021.

“For us it is devastating financially because we are going to lose $200,000 to $300,000 in revenue,” he admits. “That’s what we depend on to keep the centre going and make improvements.”

Weir says the Birds of Prey Centre might be able to open on a limited basis in the latter part of the summer, but it won’t be enough to make up for the financial shortfall they are experiencing.

“We may just open for guided group tours where we really limit the number of people coming through,” he says. “We do have the ability to survive so there is no way we are going out of business, and we don’t want to give anybody that impression. We have such a dedicated crew of volunteers and our paid staff would probably work for nothing to keep the place afloat. But we would still like to keep our staff going, even on a limited basis.”

Staff are willing to cut back their paid hours to help save money, says Weir, but the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre can do nothing about its fixed costs like insurance, maintenance, or the care and feeding of their animals.

“We still have all the birds to care for and look after,” concludes Weir. “It’s not like we can just shut off the lights and close the doors and come back in three or four months. Operating expenses go on even when we’re closed to the public, right?”

To make a donation to the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre visit its website at burrowingowl.com.

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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