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Howland bird sanctuary to migrate south


CANFIELD — Members of Birds of Flight Sanctuary visited Canfield Township trustees at their meeting Tuesday.

Led by Heather Merritt, the group told about plans to move the sanctuary from its present home in Howland to a farm in the township.

Merritt said the nonprofit wildlife rescue organization had outgrown its site in Howland and was able to purchase the 80-acre Zarlenga Farm that lies a half-mile south of the Canfield Fairgrounds.

“Last year, we handled over 5,000 animals and birds,” she told trustees. “The majority of birds come from the public.”

According to its website, Birds in Flight currently cares for the thousands of birds and other wild animals in a crowded rental home on a one-acre lot in a residential section of Howland Township.

The barn at the Zarlenga Farm is expected to be ready to house animals and birds by the end of March, Merritt said. By mid-July, Merritt said she is hoping to be able to open to the public, except for the wild birds that are not permitted to be on public display.

Merritt said people come across a bird of prey that may have been hit by a car, or injured some other way and she gets the call.

Birds of Flight Sanctuary was founded in 1991. Today it carries two license, Merritt said. One is through the Ohio Division of Wildlife and covers animal rescues, including fawns.

The other license is through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency and covers birds. Merritt said the birds of prey need to have a shelter where they are kept from the public. The birds that are cared for to be released back into the wild musthave minimum human contact.

The organization’s builder, Brad Gibson, showed trustees plans to enlarge the existing barn to handle more birds and animals down the road. Gibson said the expansion would be done in phases as donations allow.

“We are going to renovate the existing barn as part of Phase I,” Gibson said. “We will also be building several 24-foot octagon pens to serve as public education areas.”

Merritt said birds that are injured to the degree they couldn’t live in the wild, are permitted to be used for public education. That is what the octagon pens would be for.

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