Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital

Fellow Mortals is more than a place. It is a living philosophy based on the belief that encouraging compassion in humans toward all life brings out the finest aspects of our humanity. Fellow Mortals provides excellent medical care to injured and orphaned wild animals entrusted to the hospital by the public. Fellow Mortals continues to advance treatment for the most critically injured and compromised animals admitted for care, demonstrated by a continued high rate of recovery and release back to the wild. Fellow Mortals also attempts to limit the number of animals admitted for care each year by offering public education to prevent unnecessary injury and orphaning, thereby reducing the total n...
Mar 14, 2017

Teachers & Students for Wildlife

Cover slide of NWRA presentation
Cover slide of NWRA presentation

While most of our reports talk about the wild animals brought to Fellow Mortals for care, we rarely talk about the work that is necessary to provide the best care possible to those animals.

Fellow Mortals has a small staff of five licensed wildlife rehabilitators who, with the help of college interns who join us during the busy months, provides care for approximately 2,000 injured and orphaned wild animals every year.

The way we feed a baby squirrel hasn't changed since 1985--but the tools we use to feed, like syringes and nipples, have changed and improved over the years, making it less likely for little babies to aspirate formula into their lungs by sucking too hard.  The formulas themselves have also changed, and continue to change as more is understood about the different nutrition required by each species.

While a baby beaver needs a formula very high in fat, that same diet would be too rich for a cottontail rabbit.

You might wonder how we know when a new nipple is available or a new disease is affecting songbirds, or if there is an antibiotic that is no longer used because something better is available.  The answer is that we, as professionals who educate the public about wildlife, also need to continue to be educated about how to care for the wildlife that the public brings to us.

In February, two of our rehabilitators attended the state wildlife rehabilitators conference, and just last week, I attended the national wildlife rehabilitators conference with Karen McKenzie.

In five days, we attended presentations given by rehabilitators and wildlife veterinarians from across the United States and Canada, and had the opportunity to meet people face to face where we had only met online previously.

In addition to attending the symposium, both Karen and I also presented papers to the rehabilitation community on subjects where we had something to share that could help them, as they were helping us.

We love to teach, and we love to learn.  To be good at anything, means to keep an open mind and never stop asking for help, and asking how to do it better.

Cover of wild orphans booklet
Cover of wild orphans booklet
NWRA symposium art
NWRA symposium art
Feb 7, 2017

Eric's Owl

Peek a boo owl
Peek a boo owl

Just one week ago, I got a frantic message from a man named 'Eric,' who had found an owl on the side of the road.  Eric's message said, "the owl is injured and breathing heavily--I'm afraid I will hurt it even more trying to do anything!"

I called him back and asked if he could cover the bird with a box so that it didn't fly or walk away before we could help.

This might sound strange, since how coud an injured owl leave?  But wild creatures will do anything they can to avoid being caught if they are injured.  They do not know that many people are compassionate and cannot tell that our intentions are kind when we approach.  If they are well, no human will ever be able to get near them--let alone touch them.

In this case, the owl was badly injured--unable to stand and bleeding from the mouth, so I was able to explain exactly how to contain the owl for transport.

Never attempt to pick up an owl or hawk or any wild creature without being instructed how to do it safely for you and the wild animal.  In the case of owls, their natural defense is their talons--the nails on their feet that they use to catch prey.  The feet are strong--the nails are sharp.

Once Eric had the owl contained, he called to say he thought it probably needed to be euthanized because it was so badly injured.  I told him to "bring it in right away--this is what we do."

When we examined the owl, we found it was a healthy female weiging four pounds--that's alot for a great-horned owl.  The feet were big and all indications are that it is a female.  Eric had found her on the side of the road and, because she was otherwise in great shape, we can only guess that she had bit hit by a vehicle. 

The owl was bleeding from the mouth and had an abrasion on one eye, but her most critical injury was head trauma that made it impossible for her to stand.  We treated her for the trauma and injury to the eye.

One week later, she has come from a bird that was on death's door and unable to feed herself or stand to a fierce beauty that doesn't want to be in our care.  With the rate she is progressing, we hope to release her in time to raise her young in the wild.

I sent Eric a picture to show him the owl's progress and he responded, "I guess I was a little panicked.  Thank you for helping me figure out how to help."

We are so happy we could help and we love what we do, but we wouldn't even get the chance if people like Eric and people like you didn't care enough to make sure we are here when we are needed.

We've attached a picture of Eric's owl, as well as some valentine 'stickers' for you.

This Valentine's Day, we want to thank you for Opening your heart to Wildlife!

Yvonne

delicious beaver
delicious beaver
Bestbuds Bunnies
Bestbuds Bunnies
Sweet Fawn
Sweet Fawn
Eric
Eric's owl
Nov 10, 2016

Life is Funny like this

The morning after
The morning after

Life is funny like this. Thursday, October 13 was our last day of our court proceedings where we were making our case to argue against the local power company cutting the trees that provide privacy, security and quiet to the wild animals in our care.  The power company owns an easement on Fellow Mortals' property where mature spruce and walnuts have grown for decades, and have always been trimmed in the past.  Suddenly this year--they wanted to cut them all down.  We were fighting for the wild ones, and their home.

It was more than irony that no sooner had we returned from court to the hospital that evening, but we got a text to let us know there was a hawk dangling from a power line in a very rural area of Walworth County.  It was about 6 p.m.

The immature red-tailed hawk had been hanging from the top power line sometime that morning.

Two of us arrived at the location and saw the hawk hanging helplessly head down from the topmost power line.  Every so often, it beat its wings which caused it to bang its legs against the pole.  We called the power company and then the police and fire department and then the power company again. The police and fire department arrived quickly but it was over an hour later before we saw the welcome sight of the power company truck's lights approaching along the desolate country road.

Once on the scene, the power company worker checked with the company and determined the power to the line would need to be turned off to allow for a safe rescue, and he left to do that while we stayed with the bird.  Another half hour passed.  It was now nearly 9 p.m.

Once the worker got back and got his truck into position, it was clear the hawk was exhausted and wasn't even trying to beat its wings anymore.  The air had turned chilly and it was critical that the hawk be rescued soon. 

I instructed the worker how to use the raptor handling gloves to grasp the hawk's legs, and then how to hold the hawk to transport it safely once he had extricated the bird's talons from the line.

After he maneuvered the bucket truck under the hawk, the rescue was smooth.  Everyone cheered when we saw he had freed the hawk!

As soon as the bucket truck returned to ground, I took the very stressed and hypothermic bird, a beautiful immature female Red-tailed hawk, into my arms, and started massaging her feet and legs. I was not sure if she was still alive and it was a half hour trip before we could get her to the hospital, but just minutes before we arrived, I felt her talons move under the warmth of my hands.

Once back at Fellow Mortals, we worked to warm the bird slowly using hot wraps and blankets, and when she finally opened her eyes, we provided glucose and fluids.

On examination, we found degloving on the inside of one leg that had created a hole over an inch in diameter in the skin.  She would need antibiotics and daily wound care to heal.

That first evening, it was enough to know she had returned to normal temperature and was resting quietly in critical care. We hoped she was helped soon enough to recover from the ordeal and will be alive in the morning.  It was after 10 p.m. before we shut off the lights in the hospital.

The next day we returned to court, where the Judge granted the power company the right to take our trees.  The power line would not take the hawk's life.

Nearly a month has passed; the hawk is fully healed and will be moving outside to a pre-flight cage tomorrow to acclimate to Wisconsin's fall temperatures, a few days hence, she will move to the big raptor flight where she will have the room to stretch her wings and legs in preparation for release!
Though we lost our fight to save the trees that were so much a part of Fellow Mortals' Sanctuary, thanks to the hawk, we have shown we have not lost our purpose--to help the wild ones, regardless of who finds them, or why they need help.

Hours hanging from the power line
Hours hanging from the power line
Power company employee in bucket by hawk
Power company employee in bucket by hawk
The bird is down
The bird is down
Coming back to life
Coming back to life
A time to rest
A time to rest

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