WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
PHOTO| JEFFREY BOHNET
Empathetic humans who discover injured wildlife may want to help but not know what to do. Those who find an injured bird of prey will be delighted to make another discovery: The North Sky Raptor Sanctuary in Grand Traverse County, a well-equipped ally.
North Sky was established as a nonprofit by husband and wife team Jeffrey and Kaitlyn Bohnet. They work in conjunction with other rehabbers and veterinarians who serve native wildlife. It is a state- and federally licensed bird of prey rehabilitation facility. In conjunction with the sanctuary, the Bohnets work tirelessly to educate and increase public awareness of wildlife, ecology, and environmental issues as they relate to raptors.
Although North Sky must occasionally resort to euthanization if, after careful consultation and assessment, it is determined that rescued birds will not be able to live a pain-free life, recent patients admitted for recovery and rehabilitation include:
– A beautiful Rough-legged Hawk brought in from the Fife Lake area. X-rays showed a fractured leg, wing damage, and some evidence of internal bleeding.
– A Great Horned Owl recovering from a heavily bruised wing and an injury to the left eye.
– A female Cooper’s Hawk who appears to have been hit by a car.
– Four orphaned babies: Two Red-shouldered Hawks and two Kestrels, North America’s tiniest falcon.
Recent activity at North Sky also includes the successful release of a Red-tailed Hawk brought in from Bois Blanc Island.
The Bohnets have a passion for raptors and for ensuring their role in the wild so that future generations can enjoy and appreciate these magnificent hunters. “We love what we do because we enjoy what nature has to offer. We enjoy spending time outdoors, and this is a way we can give back and help ensure these beautiful birds can be appreciated for years to come,” stated Kaitlyn.
The association is funded by donations from caring individuals and by the Turkey Vulture Trot, a fundraising event each fall at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville. This is normally their biggest fundraiser of the year; however, at magazine press time, it has not yet been determined if this event will occur in 2020.
One potentially positive byproduct of the COVID-19 situation is that North Sky has seen an increase in the number of patients brought in for treatment. They believe it’s because more people are home, spending time outdoors, so they are more likely to find injured birds and get them someone who can help.
Kaitlyn has been assisting in raptor rehabilitation and advocacy since 2015. She holds permits from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and she is also permitted to possess nonreleasable raptors for use in educational programs.
Jeffrey brings over a decade of business management experience to the organization and runs the day-to-day business operations of North Sky Raptor Sanctuary. He also assists with rehabilitation and handles many of the intakes.
Both work full-time jobs in addition to their efforts at North Sky, so they often work with the person who finds an injured raptor to arrange the drop-offs nearby. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has also been very helpful in transporting patients when it has resources available.