What is FACT?
We care for injured and orphaned raptors and carnivores. We are
licensed with the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the California
Dept. of Fish & Game as a rehabilitation and educational facility.
We house several severely injured or imprinted animals that are on
permanent exhibit at our facility. We are located within the
Environmental Studies Area (ESA) of the CSUB Campus.
Dr. David Germano is the current
Director of FACT and ESA;
Ms. Marlene Benton is the Coordinator of ESA/FACT. Students and
volunteers help in the daily operation of the facility under Ms. Benton.
HOW TO FIND FACT
- MAPS: CAMPUS... to FACT...
MAP OF FACT
FACTS about FACT
FACT is a unique project of Cal State University Bakersfield whose purpose is to
promote the conservation of wildlife through the rehabilitation of non-game
species of native animals and through educational activities.
The main emphasis of the project is on the rehabilitation of endangered or
protected species, particularly birds of prey. Sick or injured animals are
treated and retrained so they can be reintroduced into their natural habitat.
Some birds require relatively little treatment, while others need extensive
medical treatment and prolonged care and training.
Bird are brought to the facility by wildlife biologists, veterinarians, or
private citizens. Many have broken wings, some due to gunshot; others have been
confiscated by wildlife enforcement officers. In addition to many kinds of hawks
and owls, FACT has successfully rehabilitated several golden eagles and San
Joaquin kit fox, species that are afforded maximum protection by state and
FACT has also sponsored a professional seminar on birds of prey, conducted
workshops for wildlife biologists, presented programs to schools and civic
groups, and cooperated with the California Department of Fish and Game in
How does FACT operate?
Cal State biology majors working under the direction of Ms. Marlene Benton,
Coordinator for ESA/FACT earn course credits while assuming responsibility for a
variety of duties. When animals are received at FACT they must be examined to
determine the course of treatment. They are then kept in a small enclosure until
they are able to begin an exercise routine.
Participating students feed and water the animals daily, clean cages, and
exercise the birds. When a bird is able to fly satisfactorily and kill its own
food, it is released in the same area in which it was captured.
The program thus provides an unusual opportunity for students to observe, at
close range, many species that are protected by law and usually inaccessible. In
addition to keeping careful records on the progress of each bird under
treatment, each student conducts a literature search and prepares a paper about
a bird of prey of their choosing.
Who supports FACT?
The program involves the close cooperation and support of many people in the
community. Day to day operations are supported by California State University
Bakersfield, Farmer John Eggs, and members of the Friends of FACT. The Kern
Wildlife Resources Commission has furnished materials for the physical
facilities. Dr. Thomas Banks and the staff at Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital
provide medical treatment when needed. Members of California Department of Fish
and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assist in acquiring and
FACT's Early History by FACT founder Ted Murphy
How FACT came about and what happened in the first couple of years.
The Facility for Animal Care and Treatment is one of many rehabilitation centers
in California, but it is unique in many ways. It is a part of California State
University, Bakersfield, but it is supported by community contributions, not by
tax monies. It began at the suggestion of a student and was planned by another,
both biology majors, and much of the work at the facility is done by students
who earn course credits for the experience.
In 28 years the project has grown from a small raptor rehabilitation effort to
an animal rescue-conservation education program that is known throughout
It began in the winter of 1975, soon after FACT Director Ted Murphy had become
Project Director of the newly-established Environmental Studies Area. At that
time the only improvements to the Area were a new greenhouse and a chainlink
fence that encloses 20 acres of former cropland.
Ron Thomas, wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game,
called Murphy one evening and asked if he would like an injured Red-Tailed Hawk.
'What would I do with a Red-Tail Hawk?" was Murphy's response. Thomas then
suggested that it could be put in the Environmental Studies Area where it would
be protected and might eventually fly away. This sounded like a reasonable plan.
The next day Thomas, accompanied by his colleague, Ray Buss, and his supervisor,
Roy Hinds, walked into the classroom where a small group of students were
discussing some topic in "Environmental Resources", and announced that he had
brought the hawk. Seizing the opportunity to have his students meet and talk
with wildlife biologists who work with local environmental resources, Murphy
adjourned the class to the ESA where Thomas pulled a cardboard box covered with
an old barbecue grill out of the back of his pickup truck.
The box was overturned and the hawk unceremoniously dumped on the ground in the
middle of a ring of onlookers, none of whom had any idea of what was wrong with
the bird or what to do with it. It was decided that someone would keep an eye on
the bird, which apparently had an injured wing, and provide fresh food for it.
During the discussion with the biologists it was learned that injured hawks and
owls were commonly found in Kern County and that, until recently there had been
an individual in Frazier Park who sometimes cared for such animals. Otherwise,
Fish and Game personnel sometimes rescued injured birds and tried to care for
them in makeshift backyard cages. Recognizing a need, one of the students, John
Hayes, said "Doc, why don't we start a project to take care of these animals?"
Murphy's reply was: "O.K., John. Write up a proposal and we'll see if it can be
done." At that point the class time was up and everyone had to dash to other
The Red-Tail stayed at the ESA for several weeks, perching on the young palm
trees. Food was provided in the form of chicken parts from the supermarket but
no one ever saw the bird eating it. After a couple of cold, foggy weeks, the
bird disappeared and John got busy studying for final exams and forgot about his
STUDENT DESIGNS FACILITY, GETS FUNDING
A practicing mortician for several years, Phil Sheldon discovered he had more
interest in the living and decided to got back to college and study biology.
After transferring to CSB from Bakersfield College, he concentrated on
environmental biology, delivering Oriental food at night to pay the bills. In
need of a senior project, he remembered John Hayes' suggestion that we start a
bird rescue and asked Dr. Murphy if he could pursue the idea for his project.
Getting approval, he spent spring quarter of 1976 visiting zoos, other rehab
centers, Fish and Game labs and wildlife wardens, collecting information on
legal problems, injury treatment, food requirements, and building
specifications. After many discussions with Dr. Murphy, Phil's information was
consolidated into a proposal.
The original name proposed, although appropriate and producing a catchy acronym
(HABITAT) was discarded in favor of Facility for Animal Care and Treatment-FACT.
Interviews with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent W.D. "Bill" Hawes and
California Department of Fish and Game Captain Barney Bryan revealed a real need
for such a rescue center and both officers pledged their support to the project.
At this point it was realized that medical support would be essential to such a
facility's operation, since undergraduate students would operate the program and
the director lacked a medical background. Dr. Tom Banks, a partner in
Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital, although lacking much specific experience with
wild birds, had close connections with the vet school at UC Davis, a real
interest in the project, and a willingness to learn. He pledged his support and
the feasibility of the project was established.
A concrete pad at the Environmental Studies Area, which had earlier supported a
steel storage building, was chosen as the site for which to house recuperating
birds were drawn, and lists of materials were prepared. A request for funding
was submitted to the Kern County Wildlife Resources Commission, a group
appointed by the Kern County Board of Supervisors and charged with disbursing
money received from fish and game law violations in Kern County. In August, the
Commission agreed to pay for the materials for the building and some necessary
supplies, but they had to be purchased by the County Purchasing Department,
which took several months.
In the meantime, word of the project got around and the first 'customers' were
three young Horned Owls confiscated by Warden John Reed from a local
businessman. The month-old nestlings had been stolen from a nest by several
young boys and sold to the businessman who put them in a cage for his customers'
pleasure. A plywood box and a lath-covered aluminum frame (formerly a
greenhouse) were pressed into service as quarters for the fuzz-covered birds.
The seizure of the baby Horned Owls marked the beginning of a long association
with John Reed, who died in an automobile accident in 1984. Reed gave a lot of
time and attention to FACT, delivering injured animals, releasing rehabilitated
birds, delivering road-killed animals and carcasses from the evidence locker for
food, and generously giving advice and counsel.
Another biology major, Pat Del Rio, was employed as a caretaker at the
Environmental Studies Area and during the summer he cared for animals and helped
develop a set of procedures for operation of the facility.
The first hawk cared for at FACT was a nestling that had fallen from a tree in
east Bakersfield and was raised in a cardboard box on FACT Director Murphy's
patio in the summer of 1975. One side of the cardboard box was hinged, like a
door, and slits cut in it to resemble the bars of a cage. A shallow paper
cylinder filled with soft cloths served as a nest. As with any good raptor
nestling, the bird's excrement was never dropped in the nest. Instead it was
ejected through the cardboard "bars" on to the floor of the patio!
The young bird was covered with white, fuzzy down and couldn't be identified. It
was named "Beauty" since it was thought to be a "buteo" or broad-winged hawk. As
it grew and began flight training, it shared the backyard with a large Desert
Tortoise and, if placed on the turtle's shell, would hang on during a slow,
perplexing trip across the yard. Often, when it was allowed to perch on a pole
in the back yard it would be buzzed by resident Brewer's Blackbirds and
Mockingbirds, much to the poor hawk's puzzlement.
Later, "Beauty" was transferred to the lath-house at the ESA where it had more
room and where it was killed by a predator, probably a weasel. Still later, a
comparison of color photos of "Beauty" showed it to be a Red-Shouldered Hawk.
By mid-December the materials purchased by the Kern County Wildlife Resources
Commission for FACT's first (and still main) building were delivered and its
construction was begun on the Saturday before Christmas. A local contractor, Don
Mahan of Construction West, and one of his carpenters, Dave Shoffner, spent the
day, aided by Murphy and CSB student Richard Barbour, building most of the frame
for the structure and over the next few weeks the building was finished and
ready to occupy.
The initial plans included a building with four separate compartments large
enough for a hawk or owl to exercise in and four small cages to house birds with
taped wings or other problems that required suppressed physical activity. A
maximum capacity of 8 birds seemed reasonable at the time. At one point years
later there were 75 animals at FACT at the peak of the season!
The first fall and winter of FACT's operation was manned by CSB biology students
Pat Del Rio, Cathy Hayden, Carol Hodgson, Nancy Hollandsworth, and Dan Holland.
Barn Owls, Horned Owls, Red-Tails and Kestrels were among the first patients.
Both Dr. Tom Banks, FACT's volunteer veterinarian, and Murphy learned a lot
about raptor treatment during those early months, frequently the hard way.
Fortunately, Dr. Banks had close ties with the staff at his alma mater, U. C.
Davis, particularly Dr. Murray Fowler, head of the Department of Veterinary
Medicine, who had established a raptor rescue center there and was a expert on
the treatment of wild animals.
Many of the treatments and procedures were crude and innovative (and some still
are). For instance, after weeks of immobilization of a broken wing, hawks and
owls were placed in the larger compartments and allowed to exercise freely, but
some way was needed to give them longer flights to speed up the muscle
development and loosen stiff joints. A system, based on a backyard dog tether,
was designed that seemed to be a solution to the problem: a wire was stretched
between two posts about 75 feet apart; a heavy cord about 10 feet long was
attached to the bird's feet at one end and to a metal ring on the wire at the
The bird was placed on a perch on one of the posts and forced to take flight.
The bird had to fly along the wire and land when it reached the end of it.
Everything worked fine until then; if the bird developed much speed in this
short flight, it was abruptly yanked to the ground. A large rubber band between
the wire and the cord softened the blow, but the system was far from perfect.
Later, the wire was abandoned and the bird was- attached to a long cord coiled
on the ground. This worked better, but the recovery of the line was very tedious
and the tangles were unbelievable. Eventually we adapted an old falconer's
method, using a modified fishing reel with a very long line, that works well,
even for large birds, such as eagles.
In February of 1976 Mrs. David Goldberg, a part-time anatomy instructor at CSB,
learned about FACT and wanted to help the project by contributing money. Since
there was no mechanism receiving donations, an account was established with the
CSB Foundation called the "FACT Fund." Soon after, contributions to the Fund
were made by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Stockton, local ranchers and organizers of the
Kern Audubon Society, and the Cal State Women's Club. FACT had become a
legitimate operation! With $400 in the Fund it now was possible to actually buy
things that were needed, rather than have to scrounge them.