Mmmm… tasty mice! |

Mmmm… tasty mice!

A group that rescues wild hawks and owls and releases them back into the wild has found a use for hundreds of dead mice trapped in an infested vacant pet store on Freeman Lane.

When members of Wildlife Rehab and Release in Penn Valley read about the rodent infestation at the former Pet Mine in The Union, they thought of one thing – food.

“Everyone in our group went, ‘Oh, mice, hundreds of mice!’ We were so excited,” said animal rehabber Laurel Gunderson.

Gunderson quickly called Champ Pest Control Co. of Orangevale and offered to take the dead mice caught in traps in the Pine Creek Center as long as they weren’t poisoned.

This year, 175 injured raptors, more than ever before, have come through a recovery camp in Penn Valley. Keeping up with the birds’ voracious appetites for mice, rats and quail can be costly.

“We’re kind of running low on funds. That’s why we wanted those mice,” said raptor rehabber Bev Myers.

A large mouse costs 50 cents when bought from a supplier in Oroville, said Gunderson. A barn owl can eat five to six mice a day.

On a recent hot summer day, a fledgling red tail hawk sat on a branch perch inside his cage squawking for his dinner. Myers flung a defrosted rat into the corner.

The hawk pounced and grabbed the rat with its sharp talons before returning to its perch to tear its lunch apart.

The group staffed by all volunteers has 22 raptors in its care, including seven great horned owls, two screech owls, a young red tail hawk and two spotted owls.

At the height of the season, 54 injured birds were recuperating at the facility, Gunderson said.

“There was one time in the summer when we were going crazy trying to feed these guys” he said.

“Our vet bills are tremendous. It can cost $60 for an x-ray of a broken wing,” Myers said.

Last week, a fundraiser generated $600 for the group to help pay food and veterinary bills, Myers said. A chocolate bar fashioned in the likeness of a Swansain’s hawk will become available this fall.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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