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Raptor recovery centre to open in Hilden

After years of fundraising, the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hilden is about to open its new rehabilitation facility for large raptors, or birds of prey.

Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre realizes 10-year dream

Helene Van Doninck and Murdo Messer are about to open their large raptor flight facility at the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hilden. (Courtesy: Murdo Messer)

After years of fundraising, the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hilden is about to open its new rehabilitation facility for large raptors, or birds of prey.

Helene Van Doninck and Murdo Messer are the co-founders of the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, essentially built in their house and yard. The recovery centre is a wooden, enclosed oval track where injured birds can fly freely until they are ready to return to the wild.

The couple said they have been dreaming for a decade of building a place where eagles could fly.

Injured animals often arrive first at the clinic where Van Doninck works as a veterinarian. Once they are stable, they are brought to the home on Irwin Lake Road in Hilden.

The centre mostly specializes in caring for large birds of prey, such as eagles, hawks and owls. The birds do well in the wood and wire pens behind the house, but Van Doninck said when it comes time for them to strengthen their flight muscles, the confined space can be a problem.

"We have a long strap we attach to their feet and we've been taking them to the field across the way," she said.

"We let them go for a bit before we bring them back. Obviously, it's not great."

Listen as Information Morning's Jerry West takes a tour of the new facility with Van Doninck and Messer.