MINNEAPOLIS -- The tornado that devastated north Minneapolis on May 22 not only affected resident but also wildlife. The Great Blue Heron rookery on Heron Island was hit hard by the storm.
When Minnesotans saw adult Herons returning to the sites of their nests and chicks, they were touched by the destruction of eggs and chicks. They were able to rescue a few surviving youngsters.
For two months, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville nursed the survivors to Heron adolescence. On Monday, they were released into the wild to return to the Heron colony. The release occurred at the Coon Rapids Dam.
It was the successful end of a 57-day recovery at the Center, which describes itself as an "Emergency Room" for wildlife. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota is a non-profit group, supported by private donations and licensed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
The process of recovery involved days of hand-feeding, until the chicks could feed themselves. They eventually consumed several pounds of fish each day. When large enough, they were moved to outdoor pens and finally to larger outdoor flight cages on the grounds of the Center. Once they showed they could catch larger fish and learn to fly, they were ready for Monday's release.
The Center bills itself as the "largest, privately-funded rehab clinic" for animals of this type in the country. The paid, professional veterinary staff performs services including surgery to save the lives of injured animals.
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