New Raptor Rehabilitation Program Forms in Eastern Iowa

Published: Dec. 14, 2015 at 10:31 AM CST
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A new wildlife rescue and rehabilitation group has formed in eastern Iowa. RARE, standing for "Raptor Advocacy, Rehabilitation, and Education, is led by Nathaniel Hart and Jodeane Cancilla, former director of the Macbride Raptor Project. Cancilla says the MRP suspended its rehabilitation services in August this year.

"Many of us who had been working and doing that for many years felt there still was a very important need for rehabilitation in the area," Cancilla told us on Monday.

RARE currently uses space at the Gentle Heart Pet Clinic in Iowa City to treat injured birds of prey. The organization does not have large enclosures with resident birds yet, but they have already taken in birds for treatment, including an owl and a hawk. Dr. Mary Ebert, veterinarian at Gentle Heart, said this offers her a rare chance to work with something other than small pets.

"I work primarily on dogs and cats, so when I get a different species to work on, it's very interesting," Ebert told us.

RARE's primary activities will include the rescue and treatment of raptors, and getting them to facilities that will give them flight training to prepare them for release back into the wild. The group said it will partner with local animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation groups to accomplish those tasks. RARE's coverage area will include east central and southeast Iowa, northwest Illinois, and northeast Missouri.

Cancilla hopes to build a new flight cage - like the one still standing at MRP's site near Solon - to help get birds ready to return to the wild. RARE just got its state nonprofit status, but it's still waiting on federal status. That will give 100-percent tax exemption to donors, and allow for easier fundraising to get supplies they need.

"Medicines and bandages, X-rays, food, those types of things," Cancilla explained.

According to a media release from RARE, Cancilla retired as the Macbride Raptor Project's director in June 2015 after 28 years there in various roles. Macbride ended its rehabilitation program in August during the change in leadership.

Anyone who finds a raptor that needs help can call RARE’s hotline, 319-248-9770, or send email to Their web site is