Bird Savior Stars on ‘North Woods Law’
Updated: Oct 12, 2018
Written by Alex LaCasse
Photos by and Rich Beauchesne and David Lipsy
EPPING -- Nine years ago, Jane Kelly was struck with sadness as she drove along on Route 101 and came across 10 dead bard owls hit by cars over a two-month period.
Kelly, then the owner of nine chain retail stores in the area, said the transformative experience of moving the dead birds off the highway so another animal wouldn’t get hit picking at them stuck in her mind. She later launched her new life as a raptor rehabilitator and educator at On the Wing, which she started out of her home after a three-year stint as a part-time rehabilitator at the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, Maine.
“I felt like these birds were crossing my path for a reason,” Kelly said. “I had no background with biology, ornithology, zoology, ecology; no ‘ologies’ whatsoever.”
Kelly’s work in nursing birds of prey back to health and working with New Hampshire Fish and Game Department conservation officers caught the eyes of producers for the Animal Planet show “North Woods Law,” which follows the officers’ day-to-day work enforcing wildlife law. She has appeared on the show several times when officers visit On the Wing to check on birds they have dropped off to be rehabilitated and for the releases of birds in her care, Kelly said.
“The show is about the conservation officers doing their job conserving the land,” she said. “They make the show fun and a lot less intimidating. On ‘North Woods Law,’ they bridge the gap between the Fish and Game officers and the animal rehabbers across the state in a joint effort to protect and conserve the state’s wildlife. We all work together.”
Kelly, who focuses her rehabilitation efforts in Rockingham County, said she will receive a call from a conservation officer informing her they found an injured animal. She said primarily she receives birds hit by cars but also sees several young birds infected with parasites. Kelly added rodent poison is having a devastating effect on the raptor population because a lot of the dead rodents have poison in their system when they are eaten.
“With birds, the calls come in waves and it’s based on their migration and nesting season,” she said. “They’ll describe the bird’s behavior and send me a picture and we’ll make a determination as a team whether or not to put it back in the nest if we can find it or they need to bring it to me. One way to stop birds from getting hit in the road is to stop throwing trash out of the car. The rodents are on the upcycle right now, but the secondary (consumption of rodent poison) are just painful, it’s a slower process, the birds won’t go as quickly as the rat eating the poison.”
Kelly is one of several people dedicated to animal rehabilitation around the state conservation officers on the program work with. Justin Silva, co-executive producer of “North Woods Law” with Engel Entertainment, said Kelly is a regular on the show because the higher population on the Seacoast leads to more birds getting hit by cars compared to other parts of the state.
“We follow the conservation officers around and working with the rehabbers around the state is such a large part of their job, it’s been great to capture these interactions,” Silva said. “Jane has been extremely film-friendly and rehabbers like her play a pivotal role in these animals’ journey back to health so they can be sent back into the wild. Jane provides the show with happy endings.”
Kelly said she does not like watching herself on television and has only seen one episode she’s taken part in. With her newfound fame in the wildlife enthusiast community, one question is whether she would consider a spin-off show as she expands her outreach efforts to offer more educational programming on raptor populations.
“I can’t imagine that,” Kelly said with a nervous laugh. “When I watched myself, I pulled a pillow over my head. Who likes listening to themselves speak?”
Silva said never say never. “You never know, there’s always a chance,” he said with a laugh.
Visit the original article by Alex LaCasse for the SeaCoastOnline here.