Apr 24, 2011
'Tis the season... 2011...
It's been a crazy couple of weeks for everyone involved in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and it's just the beginning. The calls for help with found wildlife are coming in at a steady rate - and the calls range from "I hope you can help me dispose of these ducklings." to "Should i feed the baby gophers my breast milk?"... the latter, being one of the main reasons i think we don't just throw in the towel... it's because of those people who really do care - who share our sympathy for other living beings - that compassion that does not discriminate between skin or fur or feather... an unconditional kindness and willingness to take the time and make the effort to ease another's suffering.
I think knowing there are people out there who DO care and who DO appreciate our efforts is what keeps us all going, but the going is really, really, really, really tough.
This is not about me, or WildRescue - it's about all of those amazing people around the country who have dedicated themselves to running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation program.
Unless you've been exposed to it - unless you've been there, with lives on the line - it might be hard to imagine what it's like... late in the day, phone and Internet at hand, trying to figure out how the heck you're going to get an orphaned baby bird from a downtown shelter before it's indiscriminately killed and you've got no volunteers left to call when another report comes in about a hawk that has been trapped in a warehouse for three days and another call about three orphaned week-old fox kits that have wobbled from under a shed - cold, weak, and starving. Each of these lives stands a chance under the expert care of a wildlife rehabilitator, but getting the animals into the hands of these experts is an issue. There are too few volunteers.
Sadly, in the absence of someone to provide capture, first aid, and transport, countless lives are lost. Finding help after an animal is discovered continues to be a tremendous challenge, perhaps the most significant cause of death among wildlife casualties.
What can you do? Volunteer. Sign up with a wildlife rescue or rehabilitation program in your area and offer to, at the very least, be available for transport.
It's not brain surgery - it can be as simple as picking up a shoebox and driving it 40 miles to someone who can save the tiny life inside.
If you want more excitement and challenge, there's plenty to be had. You can become trained to answer the hotline and take calls from the public, or be trained to go out and reunite and re-nest healthy babies, or receive training to perform more complex rescues. There is a place for everyone, and there is most certainly the need.
Let me close by saying a heartfelt Thank You to those who recently went out of their way to help a wild animal. To Neil, who walked a mother duck and her 14 ducklings two blocks to safety; to Patrick and to Max, who took the time and effort to see that 4 baby owls were returned home to their parents; to Bobbie, who mustered the courage to release a frightened skunk from a cat trap; to ChadMichael, for taking the time and using his expertise to reconstruct a hummingbird's nest, protecting its two occupants; to Janice, Lexi, and DJ for rescuing 2 ducklings from a storm drain; to the kind woman, who drove 80 miles to deliver the two gopher pups to safety; to Aaron, who gave the baby jay a ride from the shelter; and to Alvenus, who cared enough to seek help for a band of orphaned coyote pups.
Thank you one and all, your heroism is inspiring.