We are grateful for the opportunity to update you, our supporter on our progress in meeting our goals over the past year thanks to your ongoing support. .
Funding received through Globalgiving has not only allowed us to provide high quality care to a larger number of injured and orphaned wild animals, while expanding our outreach and volunteer and intern programs, but it has also given us the support needed to look toward the future. It’s hard to believe what we’ve been able to accomplish within the past year with just a tiny paid staff of 4 (and an army of volunteers of course!). Accomplishments include improved diagnostics and success rates; improved training and depth of caregivers; an updated strategic plan and growth in support committees; an increased number of “orphaned” wild animals remaining with their parents in their habitats; increased participation in wildlife education and stewardship.
With your help, Center for Wildlife also continues to focus on remediation and repairs, efficiency modifications, and construction of new caging, in order to treat a growing number and diversity of wild animals. We are delighted to report that we are now poised to return to our capital campaign, and have begun meetings to ensure that we have a long-term lease or ownership of property in order to fulfill our dreams of a new clinic and education center within the next couple of years.
Below is a summary of accomplishments in our different program areas, please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more specific information. I am proud of sharing the work we’ve been able to accomplish thanks to your support, and we truly could not keep up with an ever-increasing demand for our services for wildlife without your support.
Highlights of the center’s accomplishments in 2012-2013 include:
Growth in success rates
In 2012-13 Center for Wildlife staff and volunteer veterinarian created a Medical Clinic Committee. The focus of the committee is to share ideas, studies, medical and husbandry techniques, and other knowledge ultimately in order to increase the number of animals successfully returned to the wild. The results of this work was perhaps best evidenced in a reduction of treatment time and thus secondary injuries with especially high-strung animals or those that spend a large amount of time in the water. The notable species successfully released included: a belted kingfisher, common loon, Northern gannets, common tern, neonate Virginia opossums and Eastern cottontails, North American beaver, American mink, and an egg-bound snapping turtle.
The common tern perhaps exemplifies this commitment and expertise. The tern was brought to Center for Wildlife by a local fisherman. He was fishing and was horrified when he cast his line and with bad timing a common tern was struck by his weight and lure. The fisherman got the bird out of the water and brought him straight to us. We found that the tern had a fractured ulna. The wing was set and true to the typical species behavior, the tern was too stressed to eat. Our clinic staff carefully hand-fed the bird fish for 2 weeks, a feat that could cause increased stress, aspiration, and fungal infection if not handled properly. They got the bird to an outdoor enclosure as soon as he was stable, and within days he was eating on his own in the comfort of an outdoor enclosure away from people. As soon as the fracture was stable he was placed in our waterfowl enclosure (a structure that exists and gets daily use thanks in part to past Red Acre funding!) and immediately began flying and diving over the pools. We contacted the fisherman and he was incredibly grateful to be given the honors of release back out to the open ocean. Thanks to the daily monitoring, patient progress, expert treatment techniques and medical care from our clinic staff this was an exciting success.
Increased success of the Wildlife Assistance Hotline
The number of calls to the Wildlife Assistance Hotline continues to average over 12,000 calls. The Center logs an average of 60-70 phone calls per day during peak season from April through October. This heightened call volume is attributed to heightened community awareness from outreach programs as well as an increase in animal injury and illness resulting from a region of ever-increasing development in natural habitats. Center for Wildlife staff committed to improving our phone protocols, along with training for Senior interns and volunteers on the phone. Enhanced protocols and training led to a decreased number of orphaned mammal and songbird admissions. This was the result of our trained staff and interns speaking callers to determine whether displaced young could be re-united with their parents, which thankfully was sometimes the case!
An example includes a call about a litter of gray squirrels whose nest was disturbed when tree work cut down their tree in the spring. Working with the caller our staff could determine that the babies were healthy and had not sustained injury. Staff coached the caller to place the babies in a basket with a warming bottle underneath, and keep the area clear of pets, children, and people. They watched from a distance, and called back excitedly to report that the mother had indeed returned, and brought each baby to their new drey (squirrel nest). These types of calls happened several times this year, along with calls dispelling fears and myths so that the public was open to co-existing with wildlife instead of removing, relocating, or harming them.
Enhanced Intern and Volunteer Training Program
Center for Wildlife has hosted interns for ~15 years, and now hosts an average of 25 college students in 4 different internship blocks throughout the year. With the addition of our intern host family program, we host interns from all over the country. This year some of our interns hailed from Wyoming, California, Vermont, Michigan, and Rhode Island. Our clinic staff along with our volunteer veterinarian reviewed our training protocols, and improved our materials and content. Along with these updates on natural history, species-specific nutrition and husbandry needs, and feeding techniques, our volunteer veterinarian began offering monthly four-hour workshops to engage and increase learning opportunities. These covered topics like: Bloodwork 101, Performing an Initial Exam, Wildlife Necropsies, and more. Volunteers and interns logged over 3,000 hours of supportive care, medical clinic support and training, shadowing, habitat setups, enrichment, and many other aspects of wildlife rehabilitation and education in the past year. Here’s a testimonial from our Senior Intern Caitlin Lanphear about her experience with Center for Wildlife, she interned from March-November of this year:
“My favorite thing about working in the field of wildlife rehabilitation is its ever-changing nature; that every day is exciting because you never know what's going to come through the door. My 6-month experience at CFW has been nothing short of that. Our diversity of intakes has ranged from a group of orphaned squirrels, to a barred owl hit by a car, to a mallard with a gun-shot wound, to a beaver found on the side of the road, to a seagull with a fishing lure caught in its mouth. Every day has been a learning opportunity in which the Center's outstanding staff members were more than willing to and eager to teach. The experience, knowledge and skills I have gained during my time here will be taken with me as I continue to pursue a career in wildlife rehabilitation. Thanks to such great mentors and my [host families], who have truly become like family to me, it is going to be very hard to leave come November.”
Community Connection to Wildlife
In 2012-2013 CFW continued to offer high-quality environmental educational opportunities, connecting with over 7,500 participants in our community. Our educational programs originated from witnessing first-hand in the medical clinic the impacts human development can have on our local wildlife; and experiencing the deep connection each rescuer develops with these animals. Who can better explain that roads and development can lead to wildlife road mortality than a beautiful barred owl that has been hit by a car? What better way to dispel myths and fears about bats and share their imperative roles in local ecosystems, human health, and agriculture than for children and adults to meet a rehabilitated big brown bat named Brownie? These programs and education venues now include schools, libraries, senior centers, universities, non-profit partner organizations, on-site public programming, and social media (almost daily posts on wildlife, natural history, how to protect them, etc).
The past year we took an inventory of our educational programming and identified demands for expansion from the community. We have begun creating new volunteer positions to support the expansion to fit these needs in a sustainable way, including a wildlife education internship, and volunteer docent positions. The biggest needs identified were in our on-site tour and public program opportunities, along with our Wildlife as Teachers and Healers program. In the Wildlife as Teachers and Healers program, our wildlife ambassadors and educators reach seniors and disabled and at-risk youth and adults, improving confidence and an understanding that everyone is important and can feel good about contributing to the community.
Thanks to your continued support, we are now treating an average of 1,600 patients each year, guiding over 12,000 callers on our wildlife assistance hotline, presenting environmental programming to over 7,500 community members, and hosting over 20 college interns and an average of 100 volunteers each year. Our facility has grown to include a donated ranch house that houses an intensive care room, small mammal and baby bird rooms, examination room, food prep kitchen, and office, along with over 50 specialized outdoor enclosures. We have 4 full-time staff, and 4 stipend support positions. Unbelievably our clinic and all outdoor enclosures can be pretty much full during peak season with close to 350 injured and orphaned wild animals in care at one time.
Although the economy has proved challenging over the past several years, with the strength of our staff, board, volunteers, and community we have still managed to improve our diagnostics, treatment, and success rates; expand our educational programming; and improve upon and increase our volunteer and internship program and participation.
The most difficult task of creating a report can be deciding which amazing aspects of Center for Wildlife to spotlight. It’s hard to describe what a special place Center for Wildlife is…imagine discovering that our broad-winged hawk ambassador Grace has laid an egg and is protecting it with her new partner Gus, or working late at night and hearing our great horned owl patients call in wild owls, or the feeling of relief while watching a rescuer release Cooper’s hawk that couldn’t even stand upon admission. Staff and volunteers can all talk for hours about the Center but for now here are some updates on our programs.
Our medical clinic is staffed by 3 incredible Wildlife Specialists, along with our volunteer veterinarian Dr. John Means. John has been with the Center for Wildlife for 22 years, and we could not provide the quality care that we do without his collaboration and expertise. John has joined our board and is the chair of our newly formed medical clinic committee, making “house calls” to the Center on evenings and weekends, and seeing patients at the North Hampton Animal Clinic for free on his lunch breaks. Working together with our Wildlife Specialists the medical treatment and care that Center for Wildlife provides today seems to continually grow in leaps and bounds and is the best its ever been. Erin, Sonja, and Laura together have 15 years of wildlife rehabilitation, research, and education experience treating species beyond the ones at Center for Wildlife to include coyote, fox, bear, and even Mountain beaver. They have also studied and tracked species in the wild ranging from grizzly bears, Columbian spotted frogs to pileated woodpeckers. They’ve monitored the presence of bat maternity colonies in the Pacific Northwest, and studied Tropical Ecology in the Virgin Islands.
It’s hard to describe how difficult it can be to give 190 different species the proper care they need to be successfully treated and released back into the wild. The physiology, diet, habitat requirements, stress levels, and sensitivity to medication varies wildly from a North American porcupine, to an Eastern painted turtle, to a ruby throated hummingbird. Thanks to the backgrounds, creativity, and ongoing professional development of our staff our techniques and best practices keep growing, ultimately leading to more animals being returned to the wild. For example all water-birds now have blood taken upon admission to rule out any underlying causes for being found on the ground and blown off course. Baby bunnies now receive cecotropes gathered from adult bunnies at a rabbit rescue center to pass along the good gut flora they would receive from their parents to allow them to thrive instead of perishing from digestive issues. And we recently learned through a webinar on pain medication that it may not be safe to administer certain anti-inflammatories to raptors as a recent study showed 85% of raptors testing positive for rodenticide which affects blood coagulation. We are proud of the quality care provided to our patients across the board, from the Eastern gray squirrels rescued after someone “threw them away in a garbage can”, to the red-tailed hawk found dazed on the side of the road.
In addition to the growth in our medical clinic over the past year, our environmental education programs also continue to grow and evolve. All of our programs include 3-4 of our non-releasable wild animals, hands-on displays and materials, and themes of wildlife ecology, stewardship, and wildlife protection presented by one of our Project WILD certified educators. Thanks to the support of our amazing Education & Outreach Fellow Emily Calhoun we’ve been able to increase our programming throughout the year, and now present over 200 programs to all ages and venues; schools, libraries, universities, senior centers, state parks, and more. The impact that these amazing creatures have on audiences is usually even physically observable. An audible inhale takes place when Freyja our peregrine falcon comes out of her travel box, and we recently had a student tear up when she saw Bianca our barred owl as it reminded her of one her family had rescued. We’ve recently expanded our programming to reach disabled and at-risk youth and adults and seniors with our “Wildlife as Teachers and Healers” program. We offer a joint program with Wells Reserve called “Wild Friends in Wild Places” aimed at getting K-2 students outside and connecting with wildlife and habitats.
We have also grown our on-site programming capabilities thanks to your support, local foundations, and local rotary clubs. New opportunities to learn and connect with wildlife include our summer on-site tours on Tuesdays from 2-3pm, and seasonal programming like our “owl prowls” and “moonlight snowshoes”. We look forward to launching a new “docent tour” program on the first and third Saturdays of the month from June-September. During each program participants learn about their own unseen connections and dependence on healthy wildlife and habitats. Perhaps it’s that squirrels are responsible for planting our oak forests, or that opossums, turkeys, bats, and songbirds help to manage insect populations to prevent the spread of diseases like Lyme and West Nile. We are hopeful that participants walk away with a new appreciation for wildlife, and feel empowered to protect them.
As development pressures in our region increase they bring many new challenges to wildlife including habitat loss, vehicle collisions, fishing line, domestic and roaming pets, oil and other contaminents. Recently I was visiting Northern Vermont and while hiking visited a fish spawning site on the Willoughby River. I was first struck by the number of people who came to watch (that was awesome!), and then by how difficult it must be to make a journey up these raging rapids and waterfalls, every single year. It got me thinking about other species like the osprey that has to fly 2,500 miles during their first winter to South America, having just mastered the art of hunting for themselves. Or the Eastern gray squirrel that has to eat 1-2 pounds of food each week just to feed themselves, let alone what a nursing mother has to do to feed herself and babies! It is so difficult to be a wild animal already, and they are adapted and equipped to take on these challenges, but the introduced obstacles can certainly prove to be too much.
We are so grateful that our work continues to increase each year thanks to your interest and support. Although daunting at times, the increased number of phone calls means that many more people are aware of their wildlife and want to protect them. The increased demand for programming and on-site visits means that people want to educate themselves and their children about wildlife, taking steps to be sure they don’t lose their connection with wildlife and nature which can be so easy to do in our times. I am proud to share that together with our community Center for Wildlife has admitted and treated over 25,000 injured and orphaned wild animals as of this year, with at least 12,000 returning back into the wild! We are so thankful for your support and interest, and look forward to sharing continued growth and success in the coming year. Thank you!!
Thanks to your donations and continued support, Center for Wildlife continues to provide quality care injured and orphaned patients (admitted daily with severe injuries and trauma), while expanding our volunteer and intern training programs which provide unique hands-on educational and practical experience for local community members and individuals interested in pursuing careers in wildlife rehabilitation. This depth of trained care givers has allowed us to expand our capacity for the number and complexity of patients we treat while maintaining high quality care, and has freed up professional staff time to keep abreast of the latest advances in treatment and explore new research and diagnostics opportunities. With your help, Center for Wildlife also continues to focus on facility remediation and repairs, and construction of new caging, in order to treat the diversity of wild animals.
We are delighted to share highlights of Center for Wildlife’s accomplishments this past year include:
Growth in medical clinic staff and prevention
In 2012, Center for Wildlife recruited and trained three (an entire) new clinic staff with strong backgrounds in research, diagnostics, wildlife ecology, and wildlife husbandry. Building on the momentum from 2011 the new staff quickly embarked on creating improved patient treatment and telephone hotline protocols and training . Treatment protocols are now current and thorough, and our telephone hotline is more heavily focused on prevention of injuries and prevention of removal of wildlife from their habitats. The increased number of phone calls to our Wildlife Assistance Hotline (12,000+ callers per year), improved policies and protocols supported by a renewed focus on prevention has directly resulted in a decrease in mammal admissions; specifically young mammals. This focus of resources toward prevention has empowered our Senior Interns and Wildlife Specialists to coach callers to observe rather than disturb juveniles whose nests were destroyed or were temporarily separated from their mothers in the wild. Most callers were able to witness a “National Geographic moment” when observing a frantic mother find her young, re-build a nest, and carry each small mammal safely to their new home. This focus on prevention has reduced the number of patients this year from 1,623 to a little over 1,400, allowing us to spend more time on the patients in our clinic and staff development.
This past summer we welcomed our long-time volunteer veterinarian Dr. John Means to our Board of Directors. John brings over 30 years of raptor and wildlife medicine experience to our clinic, and has formed a Medical Clinic Committee whose mission is to improve diagnostics, emergency stabilization and treatment regimens, provide support on researching husbandry, case studies, and enrichment, and tracking and logging the valuable data collected by the center each year. The Medical Clinic Committee along with an enhanced volunteer program utilizing experienced staff to provide supportive care has led directly to advanced care, more efficient treatment and lower death rates of injured and orphaned patients while in the Center’s care. Examples include increased success and shorter turn-around of North American porcupine patients with skin disease, and improved diagnostics of bacterial infections of Northern gannets and other pelagic water-birds allowing them to be released before secondary conditions occur.
Enhanced Support Staff Training Program
Center for Wildlife focused on revising our volunteering and intern training program this year, with the goal of streamlining the training process, creating enhanced opportunities for volunteers and interns, and ensuring that policies and procedures existed where needed to help all areas of the organization run more efficiently. With improved efficiency in the clinic, time was freed up to provide educational opportunities to volunteers and interns. These included field trips to Tufts Wildlife Clinic, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm, and the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH. Additionally, a shift in the staffing structures allowed for the creation of a 12-month Senior Intern position without increasing the budget. This position will provide year-round support to the clinic in the areas of recruiting, training, and scheduling volunteers and interns, data entry and record-keeping, soliciting in-kind donations of medical supplies, and improving nutrition, handling, and enrichment guidelines for wildlife care.
Growth in Education & Outreach
This year Center for Wildlife created and filled an Education & Outreach Fellow position. With a growing number of wildlife ambassadors receiving sanctuary at Center for Wildlife and connecting with the community, this position has been integral in providing support and enrichment for our permanent animal residents. The Education & Outreach Fellow coordinates volunteer workdays where community members come to the Center once per month to create habitats and clean enclosures (building custom ramps and ladders to accommodate each animal’s disabilities, and creating unique habitat features such as bathing pools and cavity nests.) The Fellow has also been trained to present educational programs, helping to grow Center for Wildlife’s educational program offerings to over 200 programs per year.
With the recent addition of an educational pavilion, Center for Wildlife has been able to offer public programming nearly every month, along with a “Tuesday Afternoon Summer Tour Series”. Public programs focus on seasonal wildlife and joint programming with partner organizations, allowing the public the unique opportunity to connect with local wildlife -learning about their current challenges and how to become stewards for our natural world. One recent program “Moonrise to Sunset: a spooky moonlight adventure and owl prowl” was so popular we ended up leading over 60 participants (twice the number of past events) on the trail calling for owls, an experience they are not soon to forget!
We look forward to forging ahead in 2013, stronger than ever and with the capacity to treat every wild animal that is brought to us from our caring community with hope in their eyes that we can make a difference. Thank you!
Nesting season is wrapping up, and Center for Wildlife has admitted a whopping 1,106 injured and orphaned wild animals from April to September alone. These were native songbirds, raptors, waterbirds, small mammals, turtles, snakes, and the occasional amphibian that became injured or orphaned due to vehicle collisions, domestic pet attacks, fishing hooks and line, and other non-natural causes. Our 3 medical clinic staff worked hard alongside our volunteer veterinarian, 50 volunteers, and 20 college interns to provide supportive and intensive medical care, rehabilitation, and release back into the wild for many of these patients! In addition to our wildlife patient admissions, our education and outreach program is going strong- serving over 3,000 participants this season and educating about wildlife, ecology, stewardship, and more. We also had a chance to present adult workshops at conferences including the New England Animal Control Academy and the Maine Environmental Education Association's Annual Conference.
Your donations and support have made a second chance for these amazing creatures with no "owners" to care for them. Each wild animal put back into the wild also helps to sustain the habitats and ecosystems they are a part of!
Here's a highlight and success story from the summer:
A beautiful Northern gannet was admitted on August 8th after he was found hopping in the road near Goose Rocks beach in Kennebunkport. Gannets are "pelagic" waterbirds, meaning that they spend their lives on the open ocean, not on shore. The rescuers knew that something was wrong, got the impressive bird into a box, and brought him straight to the Center for Wildlife. Upon initial examination our staff could tell by the plumage that the bird was likely ~ 2-3 years old (juveniles are all dark with white spotting, and don't get their full adult plumage until they're 3-5 years old). Our Wildlife Specialists also noticed that the bird had plaque in his mouth. They took a mouth swab and ran blood-work and determined that the bird was suffering from a bacterial infection. They immediately put him on antibiotics and began supportive treatment to get the bird's weight up as well.
After daily hand-feeding and completing antibiotics the gannet was back to full strength. Staff could tell from blood-work that the infection had subsided. They put the gannet in our grant-funded waterbird enclosure with deep filtrated pools to ensure that the bird could dive, preen, and had complete waterproofing. Because of the natural shape of their feathers along with natural oils, these birds can live their entire lives in the ocean (average life span 17 years) without getting wet! Assisted by amazing boat captain extraordinaire Phil, our staff and volunteers headed out earlier this week to bring this amazing bird home.
"We took him out to sea near the Isle of Shoals, placed the carrier at the side of the boat facing the ocean, and opened the door. He paused for a few seconds in the door of the carrier surveying the waves, then launched himself away from the boat. He flew a short distance away and then stopped to dip his bill into the ocean and preen. Then he took flight in earnest, skimming just above the waves in the direction of other gannets. We watched him fly until he was out of sight--blended into the ocean and sky."- Wildlife Specialist Laura Graham.
After admissions of orphaned wildlife from the summer slow down, so do our summer tours and programming opportunities. This coupled with a continually struggling economy means that donations decrease exponentially. However, our intensive and long-term medical care increases dramatically during this season.
The injured wildlife brought to us from a 100-mile radius shift to:
In a world of diminishing wildlife populations, mass production of chemicals and other pollutants, and exponential development, we remain committed to medically treating and promoting protection and awareness to local wildlife and their habitats.
We are so grateful for your ongoing support toward our ever-increasing work with wildlife and our communities. We truly could not do our work without you!!
As the dog days of summer are upon us we are overwhelmed with gratitude for your support, along with the help of our volunteers, interns and community during the busiest season of the year. Despite a relatively quiet patient load over the winter, the spring and summer seasons have proven to be busier than ever. Our medical staff and support team has once again risen to the challenge, as over 730 injured or orphaned animals were admitted to the clinic from March-July. During these months of heat and humidity, the Center becomes alive with a frenzy of hard-working human activity. Recently, in one day, our staff admitted: 12 pigeons found in a box on the side of the road, 3 Eastern phoebe nestlings found on the ground covered in mites, a nestling broad-winged hawk found on the ground in the forest with a wound in his wing, 2 orphaned wood ducklings, a fledgling chipping sparrow on the ground with a fractured wrist, and an American robin fledgling with a cat bite- all in one day!
In our baby bird room, volunteers work tirelessly from sunup to sundown, feeding, cleaning and administering medication to baby songbirds that have been injured or orphaned as their parents flit back and forth across dangerous roadways gathering food for their young. Our dedicated interns will hand-feed dozens of young squirrels and opossums, many of which have lost their mothers to automobile strikes or domestic cats. And our tireless medical staff that consists of only three Wildlife Specialists, are fielding up to 70 phone calls a day through our Wildlife Assistance Hotline in addition to their extensive medical duties.
Summer is also peak season for our environmental education programs. In addition to our public programs at schools, libraries, state parks, senior centers, and many other organizations, we provide a weekly Tuesday Afternoon Tour Series around our educational ambassador enclosures and grant-funded outdoor pavilion. These tours are a wonderful way for us to connect with the public and build on the passion for wildlife conservation in our community. As September approaches, the Center is also preparing for one of our biggest public events of the year; our annual open house. This exciting day event typically brings up to 1,000 people to our property where they engage in multiple educational programs with our wildlife ambassadors- this year’s theme being “A Journey Through the Ecosystem”. Participants can also enjoy local food and merchandise, and visit interactive display tables from many local environmental education, research, and land trust organizations who partner with us throughout the year.
Here’s a spotlight on one of our most inspiring cases this summer: A beautiful turkey vulture was rescued from the road in South Berwick, Maine and brought to our clinic on June 12th. She was unfortunately unable to stand, and the rescuer knew that she would not survive if left on her own. Upon examination our Wildlife Specialists and volunteer veterinarian found that the vulture had suffered a pelvic injury with lots of bruising and swelling around her hips and pelvis. She was kept in our Intensive Care room where she was monitored, kept comfortable, and administered homeopathic remedies to help alleviate the swelling and bruising. Once the swelling went down she was stable and strong enough to be moved to an outdoor enclosure where she could begin the rehabilitation process and regaining her strength and coordination. After successfully regaining her flight muscles in our 100-ft flight enclosure, we knew she was ready to be released.
Just one month after she was admitted to our clinic, we released the now healthy bird on the summit of Mt. Agamenticus. Once the turkey vulture took in her surroundings, she stretched out her impressive wings (reaching almost 7 feet across!) and eagerly took to the sky. The latin word for turkey vulture is Cathartes Aura, which means "golden purifier.” Turkey vultures were revered by our ancestors as purifying nature, which they of course still do today! Taking one last look at her caregivers, the lucky vulture soared off strongly back into the wild.
We are so grateful to our global giving donors, for helping us secure the much-needed funding to do this amazing work. With no state or federal funding or support we rely entirely on donors like you to continue medically treating and connecting the community with our wildlife and habitats. We couldn't do it without you!!
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