Tag Archives: rescue and rehab

Life on the Wild Side

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update about the goings-on where I work.  For those who are new to my blog and are not aware, I work at a wildlife rescue and rehab center where we take care of orphaned and injured wildlife, with the hopes of ultimately releasing the animals back into the wild.

It has been a crazy year.  We are close to hitting 2000 admits already, and we still have 2 more months to go.  Of course, a thousand of those admits were squirrels in September… okay, kidding. I’m just kidding!  We only had a couple hundred squirrels come to us this year, not a thousand.  (I tried to keep a running count on squirrel admits last year during squirrel apocalypse, otherwise known as September, and eventually had to give up as I started to lose track).  September is just a really bad month for squirrels.

Me with a baby squirrel

There are some physical changes happening at the center.  We have been working with a new nonprofit who rescues marine mammals. They needed a site to build pools for rehabilitation, so we’re in the midst of clearing land on the center’s property to make room for the pools in the hopes that their rescue will take off.  Living near the Puget Sound, we are in desperate need of marine mammal rescues.  Too many seals are left to die on the beach.

And of course, I still get my share of assholes who call (sorry… there is no other way to describe them).  Just yesterday I was yelled at by a man who couldn’t get a hummingbird out of his garage.  I informed him I wasn’t a government agency nor associated with the police (who, rightly so, couldn’t help him), so there was no reason for him to yell at me.  I suggested he go buy a net if all other efforts of directing the hummingbird outside failed.  He said, “Why the f—- would I go buy a f—ing net when I’m never going to use the f—ing thing again!  I’ll just let the bird die right here in my garage!”  See… asshole.  He was trying to emotionally manipulate me, which I do not tolerate.  Long story short, 20 minutes later he did manage to get the hummingbird out of his garage without having to buy a net.  For the animals, my friends… I do it for the animals.

Me with an injured red-tailed hawk

We have our holiday merchandise in and I plan to do another giveaway this year. The patient of the year (hence, the holiday ornament) is an adorable little porcupine who had to stay with us last year over winter when he was separated from his mother after a dog attack.  Stay tuned right here for details coming soon.

“If you talk to the animals, they will talk to you, and you will know each other.

If you do not talk to them, you will not know them.  And what you do not know, you will fear.

What one fears, one destroys.” — Chief Dan George

Just Another Day

Baby season is in full swing at the rescue and rehab center.  Things are kicking off a bit late this year because of our cold winter and cold spring.  But the cold ain’t gonna stop Mother Nature now, is it!  We currently have abandoned baby squirrels, abandoned baby bunnies, baby opossums who’ve lost their mom, even 2 little owlets being raised by our resident foster owl mama… and I just received my very first fawn call of the season today.  (“There is a fawn sitting in my yard that has been abandoned.” “No, it hasn’t been abandoned.  Please leave it alone.”)

That being said, I also received a call today that sent my blood pressure to stroke level.  If I could’ve gone through the phone to slap some sense into this a-hole, I would have:

HIM:  My dogs were in a fight with a raccoon a couple of days ago and they chased it up a tree. It’s been up there for 2 days and I would like it removed before it dies.

ME:  The raccoon is in the tree because he’s afraid of your dogs.  Where are the dogs now?

HIM:  Barking at the raccoon in the tree.

ME:  Can you place the dogs in their kennel?

HIM:  The kennel is right underneath the tree.  Should I put them in there?

ME:  No.  Can you bring the dogs inside for a few hours?

HIM:  No.  They’re outside dogs.

ME:  Can you put them in the garage to give this raccoon a chance to come down out of the tree?

HIM:  No.  I’m not willing to do that.

I had to put him on hold after that answer.

“No.  I’m not willing to do that.”  

Are you f’n kidding me?!  I was so not prepared for that response.  You can’t lock up your dogs?? To let another living being, one of God’s creatures, who is scared to death, come down out of a tree and have a chance at survival?? Then why the f*** did you call me?!!  Do you really think I’m going to track all the way out to your drug-infested meth-lab ‘home’ and remove a raccoon from a tree when you won’t even put your hell hounds up?? 

I was now done with this phone call.  I had to pass it off to my director as the veins in my head were frantically pulsating.

The director then proceeded to calmly explain the risk of diseases that a dead raccoon would pass onto his beloved outside dogs who were never allowed inside, if he didn’t remove his dogs from the area to let the raccoon down.

Alas… we will never know what happened to this poor raccoon, whether the above idiot decided to put his dogs up for a couple of hours or not.

I guess I’ll chalk it all up to another “day in the life of…”

Baby season is upon us.  Time for me to step up my game and get ahead of all that’s about to come…

 

 

Eye Spy… A Window Strike

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This little pygmy owl was carrying his prey, wasn’t watching where he was going, and slammed into my sliding glass door, knocking him out for quite a while.  If this ever happens to you, give the poor animal a couple of hours to come out of it.  If it’s not in harms way, just leave it be.  If there are dogs or cats or other predators around, then put it in a box, keep it quiet and safe, and leave it alone for a couple of hours (do NOT keeping peeking in at it).  Yes, it may very well take a solid 2 hours to come out of it.  If, however, you see signs of injury such as blood, it needs to be taken immediately to your nearest rehab & rescue center.  The same holds true if it’s still not able to fly after 2 hours. It may have suffered head trauma.

One final note, sometimes when we see an eagle or other bird of prey on the ground, we immediately think it’s injured.  This is not always the case.  It may have just eaten and is not able to take flight yet. Keep an eye on it for a couple of hours.  If you’re able to approach it after a couple of hours of being on the ground, then it’s time to call your nearest rehab & rescue center and ask their advice.  As always, if you need help finding your closest rescue center, contact me. I can help.

In response to The Daily Post’s Photo Challenge:  Eye Spy.

As for the pygmy owl above, he was out cold and laying on his back, opened his eyes eventually, flipped over onto his feet, regained his senses, then took off after about 30 minutes.  I had the extreme displeasure of cleaning up the headless prey that he left behind.

Capture Myopathy in Wild Animals

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Photo courtesy of 50 in 50 Marathon Quest

It’s been a strange week.  The Motivator has been in Wisconsin at an EPIC convention all week, and our son AJ and I have been left to our own devices.  Needless to say, this has not been a heavy volume running week for me.  I managed my treadmill workout on Tuesday, but I’m missing a 5-miler and a 3-miler in there somewhere.  AJ and I have been occupying our spare time watching You Tube videos that he enjoys.  He has favorite You Tubers that he watches daily, and I thought I’d check them out with him.  Oh… my…  I should’ve been running.  And oh yes, first day of school was Wednesday.  The child has gone from “I hate school” to “I love school” because the teacher announced there would be no homework this year.  Woo hoo!  AJ’s not the only one celebrating!!  But I digress… tonight I’m here to talk about wildlife…

We’ve been getting a lot of calls at the facility this week about deer.  They’re sick, have broken legs, and/or mom doesn’t seem to be around anymore.   Realistically, deer can only be rehabbed when they’re fawns.  Once they hit about 6 weeks of age, the fear of humans and everything else sets in, and treating deer older than that can do more harm than good.

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Deer (and wild bunnies) are food in nature. And they know this.  Therefore, everything terrifies them.  If we were to contain a deer that has a broken leg to try and fix it, it could then develop a very real condition called capture myopathy.  Capture myopathy is a white muscle disease to where instead of oxygen being used in muscles, stored energy is used, which then leads to a buildup of lactic acid, which in turn enters the bloodstream.  If the heart doesn’t pump enough oxygen through the bloodstream, the muscles start to die, leading to all kinds of complications. There is no coming back from this.  Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it draws out for a couple of weeks.

Imagine this… when you, as a person, get scared, your body starts producing adrenaline in order to give you the “fight or flight” response necessary to survive.  We’ve all felt this and know what it’s like.  Now imagine being in a constant state of “fight or flight” for 24 hours or more. How taxing do you think that would be on your heart?  This is what happens when a wild animal is captured.  They don’t realize you’re trying to help them.

As for the deer issues I mentioned above… if it has a broken leg, determine if it can still get around on its other 3.  There are many 3-legged deer out there who survive just fine.  If it can, then leave it alone and let it be.  If, however, it’s laying down on its side and actively dying, the absolute best thing for it is to either let nature take its course or to call a state trooper or sheriff to put the animal out of its misery.  To think a broken leg on an adult deer can be fixed is just being naive (think what a horse goes through when it breaks a leg, then think about a deer going through that with the added stress of capture myopathy).  And at this time of year, if you don’t see mom around anymore, it’s okay.  By the time fawns are weaned, mom has taught them enough about survival and foraging that they can survive on their own, without mom.

As well, wild bunnies are so high stressed and fragile that you can look at them wrong and they die if they’re in captivity.  A lot of good-intentioned people think they can “rehab” bunnies on their own.  After all, they’re just bunnies.  No, actually, they’re not.  They’re wild animals.  When you think the wild bunny has finally relaxed and “allowed” you to touch it… in reality they’re frozen solid with fear.  It’s cruel and inhumane to keep a wild bunny in a cage and to treat them like a domestic… they will eventually die from capture myopathy.  Guaranteed.  If you come across a hurt bunny, please take it to your nearest rescue center.  It’s their only hope of getting back to the wild where they belong.

My hope here is to educate people that every hurt animal cannot necessarily be rescued, nor does it need to be. Nature is very cruel, but sometimes it’s just best to leave well enough alone. If you are unsure as to whether an animal should be rescued or not, please call your local rescue center. And please don’t be surprised if their answer is to just let nature take its course. Sometimes it’s the kindest thing for the animal.

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The clinic manager’s bunny that I love babysitting and spoiling… this sweetie is a domestic, but he still hates being caged…

 

Squirrel Talk

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WHAT TO DO IF YOU COME ACROSS A BABY SQUIRREL:

If you can reach the nest, put the baby back in it.

If you don’t know where the nest is, leave him on the ground and gently press on the baby’s foot to make him call for his mom.  Then leave the area.  If the mom knows where her baby is, she’ll come down the tree and carry it back to the nest, but she will never come around if people are nearby.  You are a predator to her.  Check on the baby later to make sure mom found him.

If the above two options don’t work, gently place the baby in a box or container in which it can breathe and take it to your closest wildlife rescue center.  NEVER EVER try to raise or feed squirrels if you’re not a licensed rehabber.  Babies require very specific formula in order to keep them strong and healthy.  If not properly nourished, they will develop metabolic bone disease, a very painful condition that causes their bones to break.  It’s cruel and inhumane (I can’t stress this enough), and there’s nothing that can be done to save them.

To locate your nearest wildlife rescue, visit your state’s Fish and Wildlife website.  They will have resources to help you.  Or you can comment below and I can help you find your nearest rescue.

Living With Wildlife

I have the best job ever.  I live in the great Pacific Northwest, I love animals, and I work at a wildlife rescue and rehab facility.  How can life possibly get any better?!  There is, however, a great need to educate people about the wild animals that live among us.  I have come to find a majority of people just don’t understand the laws and/or behaviors concerning the wildlife that we see day in and day out.  Part of my blogging mission is to educate people and to share wildlife stories, good or bad, with everyone so that they, too, will understand the laws and behaviors of some of our fabulous animal friends.

For instance, did you know:

  • …that crows live on the ground for 7 to 10 days while they are learning to fly?  Please leave them alone.
  • …that you can tell a crow is a fledgling because it has blue eyes?
  • …that mama birds will NOT reject their babies if handled by humans?  This is a huge myth; their sense of smell is not that good.
  • …that mama deer leave their fawns to sit alone for hours at a time while mom goes off to forage for food?  Just because you don’t see mom doesn’t mean the fawn is an orphan.
  • …that ducks will not accept other babies as their own?  Ducks are very territorial and will kill other ducks that come near them, including babies.
  • …that it is illegal to trap and relocate wildlife?
  • …that it is illegal to rehab and release any wildlife in the state of Washington if you are not licensed and permitted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife?

I spend multiple hours on the phone, day after day, week after week, informing people of what’s right and what’s not when it comes to wildlife.  If I can save that one cute little raccoon from being imprinted by humans and then ultimately euthanized because it doesn’t know how to hunt for food, then I have done my job.  Please let our wildlife stay wild as nature intended!

A nonreleasable Northern Saw-Whet Owl that was hit by a car and now has permanent eye damage.

A nonreleasable Northern Saw-Whet Owl that was hit by a car and now has permanent eye damage.