ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A Twin Cities veterinarian is heading to the Galapagos Islands to ultimately save a hawk that is near extinction.
Dr. Julia Ponder from The University of Minnesota's Raptor Center was invited from the Government of Ecuador to spend seven weeks on the Galapagos Islands to help trap about 25 Galapagos hawks. It's the only endemic hawk of those islands.
"I've never done anything like this before," Ponder said. "This is truly an amazing place."
Ponder is part of a project to remove invasive rats that pose a threat to the Galapagos hawk. The rats can eat the chicks and eggs, knocking them into extinction. Only about 800 of these hawks remain on earth, all of them located on four of the islands.
Ponder will be involved in the hawk mitigation strategy, protecting the hawks from being a secondary target while the rat eradication takes place.
The Galapagos hawk has never been held in captivity. Ponder is thrilled about the worthwhile and challenging project.
"When [the Ecuadorian Government] were looking for somebody with Veterinary experience with raptors, they came to the Raptor Center," Ponder said. "We're a leader in raptor medicine."
Ponder leaves for the Galapagos Islands in two weeks.
The Raptor Center's web site is http://TheRaptorCenter.org.
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