ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — An ongoing legal battle over the construction of a raptor rehabilitation facility at the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke is now heading to Virginia’s Supreme Court.
In March 2021, the Roanoke County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the wildlife center to use a special permit — which was issued by the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors — to build a raptor facility for large birds of prey.
However, the Virginia Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal filed in the case against the wildlife center and the board of supervisors by two neighbors of the wildlife center, who are looking to stop the construction of the raptor facility.
The wildlife center says this additional case is going to cost them between $5,000 and $10,000.
As of this writing, the court date has yet to be set.
The wildlife center argues that without the facility, rescued birds of prey — like Bald eagles, Red-tailed hawks, and Great Horned owls — will need to be taken to another facility two hours away for rehabilitation and then brought back to be released into their original habitat, causing unnecessary stress on the birds and costing taxpayers money.
For example, the wildlife center says it received two Bald eagles from the South Holston River area on Dec. 31, 2021. After the eagles were stabilized, though, they had to be transported to Waynesboro for continued treatment due to the lack of a proper rehabilitation space at the Roanoke facility.
The female eagle’s lead levels were too high and she didn’t make it, but the male is reportedly undergoing chelation and improving at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.