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.
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