SEQUIM — Injured birds on the North Olympic Peninsula for decades have found refuge at the Northwest Raptor and Wildlife Center in Sequim.
It’s there where Jaye Moore has dedicated more than 30 years to rehabilitating birds — from pigeons to bald eagles — that have suffered some sort of injury, often at the hands of humans.
Now Moore at 63 is slowing down, aiming to retire from the Raptor Center — which she has operated out of her home at 1115 W. Hendrickson Road — by the end of the year. Over the last couple of months she has been releasing rehabilitated birds and searching for homes for birds that can’t be returned to the wild.
“I know I’m not going to be able to give this up cold turkey,” Moore said. “Once you love animals you’re done. You’re hooked for life.”
Moore estimated that 200 to 300 animals have gone through the Raptor Center each year and though she has at times had about 50 birds to care for, Moore is now down to four educational birds that are unreleasable.
She has threatened to retire before and previously said she would be done by September, but now has said she should be done by the end of the year.
But since winter is the slow season, she’s still taking birds as they come in, she said.
“We’re still taking things, but it’s low key,” she said.
Moore said she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Gary Moore, who has helped to support her and the Raptor Center over the years. He recently retired from his post at Clallam County Public Utility District. She wants to spend more time with her three grandkids and spend more time hunting and fishing.
“We’ve got the trailer, we’ve got our big boat and it’s just going to be fun,” she said. “Anything to do with the outdoors we love doing.”
By all accounts Moore is leaving big shoes to fill, but Moore is confident that Center Valley Animal Rescue in Quilcene will be able to care for the birds of the North Olympic Peninsula.
Sara Penhallegon, director of Central Valley Animal Rescue, said she is going through the permitting process to take two of Moore’s education birds — a Swainson’s hawk and a red-tailed hawk — and is getting ready for an influx of birds.
She plans to build large enclosures for the two birds to give them a good retirement and Penhallegon said she is more than happy to take on two of the Northwest Raptor Center’s longest residents.
“They are very special birds to her,” Penhallegon said. “To be able to take them will be great and she can come see them whenever she wants.”
She said last year was the busiest year so far for Center Valley Animal Rescue, with 215 animals going through the rescue, and that now things will only get busier. She needs to build more enclosures and get ready, she said.
Despite all the extra work she anticipates, she is thankful for what Moore has done over the last 30 years for wildlife on the North Olympic Peninsula.
“She’s done so much for the wild animal community, it’s just incredible,” Penhallegon said. “She’s been a very dedicated person and has been fundamental for getting wildlife care on the Peninsula.”
Penhallegon said Moore has earned her retirement but she suspects that Moore still will be involved in animal rescues, albeit to a lesser degree.
“I think she would miss it too much to not stay involved,” Penhallegon said.
She works with the state Department Fish and Wildlife officials and North Olympic Peninsula residents to find help for almost any animal in need.
Sgt. Kit Rosenberger of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said in an interview in September that Moore and her husband have always been responsive when the department needed help with injured animals.
Despite her retirement, Rosenberger said Moore will continue to be a resource in the wildlife community.
“Her and her husband both have been more than willing to drop everything to help us out when neccessary,” Rosenberger said. “I appreciate it very much. She’s had to make sacrifices with her family.”
Moore hasn’t only rehabilitated birds. Moore recalled when a cougar kitten found its way to her rescue.
She the cougar been getting into trouble by stealing groceries and getting too close to humans.
“We got her a clean bill of health and then the state says we can’t let her go,” Moore said. “She’s been with humans.”
That led to Moore searching for places to put the large cat and eventually led to her placement at the Oregon Zoo.
The cougar, now named Chinook, gave birth to her first cub, Palus, in September 2010 and was named Oregon Zoo’s Mother of the year in 2011.
Many of the birds Moore has rehabilitated over the years have been injured at the hands of humans, both intentional and unintentional.
Some hit windows, some were shot and others were hit by cars. When Moore has received injured birds she has done what she could to rehabilitate them and then release them back into the wild.
“You fix them and the end result is to release them and that is the best feeling in the world,” Moore said. “That’s what keeps you going. That is my pay, is to let them go.”
During Moore’s 30 years heading the Northwest Raptor Center she has not taken a salary. The rescue has relied heavily on financial support from the community and from her husband, she said.
She said it had cost about $1,000 per year to care for a large eagle and that overall it probably cost about $20,000 per year to keep the rescue open. At times there would be about 50 birds in her care at the same time.
She said it was only within the last five years that the Raptor Center supported itself financially.
“Thank God my husband had a good job,” Moore said.
Over the years she has acquired quite a bit of supplies that she plans to pass on to other rescues.
“Everything that somebody else helped buy, that’s going to be given to other rehabs,” Moore said.
Operating the Raptor Center would have been impossible without the volunteers who have helped out over the years, she said.
“Most of the volunteers have been amazing and a lot of fun to be with,” she said.
Moore has had a number of regular volunteers who help out each week, but also has allowed kids involved in the courts who have been ordered to do community service to help out at the Raptor Center as well.
“If they haven’t abused an animal and it’s just stupid stuff, we’v taken many kids in to work off their community service hours and get their rap sheets cleaned,” she said.
Among the regular volunteers who has helped out over the last few years is Merryn Welch, who said her time with the Raptor Center has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.
“Jaye is what makes it so great,” Welch said. “The work she does has such a huge impact on our Peninsula wildlife.”
Welch said she was surprised that Moore even allowed her to be come a volunteer. She thought she would need experience or special training, but Moore provided all the training she needed.
Welch said it’s going to be sad to see the center close.
Volunteering at the Raptor Center was a great but heartbreaking experience, she said. The birds they cared for didn’t always make it.
What made it rewarding was the moment when Moore was able to release a bird back into the wild.
“That’s what makes it all worthwhile,” Welch said. “Jaye is a strong brilliant person to be with. Working by her side is just an incredible honor.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].