Alex Clem attempts to regain control of a wild bald eagle during Saturday afternoon’s presentation at Clifty Falls State Park. (Courier staff photos by Trenton Scroggins)
Alex Clem attempts to regain control of a wild bald eagle during Saturday afternoon’s presentation at Clifty Falls State Park. (Courier staff photos by Trenton Scroggins)
Visitors to Clifty Inn Saturday afternoon witnessed four birds of prey, up close and indoors.

The Dwight Chamberlain Rehabilitation Center at Hardy Lake State Park presented its seasonal discussion at Clifty Falls State Park, showing off its falcons and hawks to more than 50 guests in attendance. The grand finale included the introduction of the rehab center’s bald eagle to the audience.

The Dwight Chamberlain Rehabilitation Center was founded in the 1980s, working as an animal rehab facility. After 2001, the organization met large cutbacks in state funding, and became almost entirely dependent upon a non-profit group called the Friends of Hardy Lake. After the budget cuts, the rehab facility was forced to cut back its range of services to only working with birds of prey.

Though it is located at Hardy Lake, the rehab facility is not open to the public. Alex Clem, a representative from the rehab center, explained that too much human contact during the rahabilitation process can be dangerous for the animals, as their natural fear of humans keeps them safe from cars, technology, and humans themselves. Clem stressed that the center’s “goal is to return all animals to the wild.” Yet, not all of the birds fully recover enough to be returned, so the facility holds onto the birds, using them as educational “ambassadors” to the public. When asked if Clem had named any of the birds, he said, “we do not name our birds...these animals are not pets. We do not want the public to see these wild creatures as pets, and there are laws in place to protect them.”

Courier staff writer Trenton Scroggins can be reached at (812) 265-3641 or at tscroggins@madisoncourier.com