Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything

by Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital Vetted since 2013 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
Injured fawn
Injured fawn

We're about half way through another very busy summer, and I am writing to you about 11 p.m. EST, United States.  The day started at 7 a.m. and after I write to you, our friends, I am going to enjoy a little quiet time before getting some sleep before the next busy, busy day.

Well over 1,000 animals have come into care in 2018--more than last year, and we are sometimes receiving 100 calls a day.  Thankfully, through education we are able to help many people keep wild babies with their wild mothers or parents.

It's certainly a season for the deer in Wisconsin, and 15 white-tailed deer fawn are currently in care—some with severe injuries, including an older buck fawn who fell off an embankment and was unable to see for several days. 

While we can handle most injuries and provide all emergency care, we are thankful to our veterinarians for responding quickly when we need them at the hospital, or when an animal requires surgery.  While most of the fawn arrive slightly dehydrated and a little thin, some are much more critical, having been attacked by predators like coyote or dogs, or hit by cars.

Bottle feeding young deer is time-consuming, but not nearly as time-consuming as preparing the formula, which must be warmed, and keeping the babies clean.  Mother deer 'stimulate' their babies to defecate and urinate.  Doing so keeps the fawn clean and nearly devoid of any odor that could be detected by a predator.  When babies come into care, we must take the place of the mother--not just for feeding, but for 'pottying,' and this often takes 5 minutes for one little deer.

Multiple the feeding, 'pottying,' cleaning of bedding, preparing formula, washing the bottles by 15 fawns four times a day and you have a full day for one wildlife rehabilitator.

Fawns come into care beginning in May and sometimes into August, so we have different aged babies, which means we are bottle-feeding someone for three months of the summer.

The wildlife raised by rehabilitators are already at a disadvantage due to the injury or condition that brought them into care--so we use only high qualify food and formula for their rehabilitation.  In the case of the fawns, this means pasteurized goat's milk that is purchased from a Grade A dairy.

The cost of goat's milk alone is now $100 a day!   Add the cost of other food, medicine and supplies to the formula, and the cost to raise one fawn to release is $1,000.

Once the babies are old enough, we transition bottles to a bottle rack to lessen their dependence on their human caregivers--this is very important, as we need to do everything we can to make sure the fawns are wild when they are released, and that means limiting our interactions with them.  

We will begin moving the oldest fawns to their secondary habitat in early July, after they are weaned.  This beautiful one-acre propery is lush with fresh 'browse,' like grasses and young saplings.  This is where they will live and grow big and strong before release--after hunting season is ended in Wisconsin.

For every fawn that has come into care, we have kept another five in the wild!  It has been a good season for white-tailed deer.

We thank all of you who have contributed to help the wildlife in our care, and we want to especially thank our recurring monthly donors, who are helping to cover the cost of care for this summer's baby deer.

Fawns at the door
Fawns at the door
fawn and bottles
fawn and bottles
fawn outside
fawn outside
Horned Grebe
Horned Grebe

Dear friend to the wild ones,

Spring has come to Fellow Mortals this week, and we welcomed our first baby squirrels and our first baby bunnies, after sad accidents separated them from mom--but not before the people who found them worked with us to try to keep the families together.

As we embark on another busy season, we continue to release many animals who were injured last fall and winter--including three birds returned to the 'big pond'' this week: an immature (1st winter) Ring-billed Gull that was admitted 10/13/2017 with a fracture of both the radius and ulna in the left wing; a transitional phase Horned Grebe that was grounded last week and needed a few days in the pool to heal her abraded feet and regain weight and waterproofing; and a mature female Ruddy Duck admitted 10/17/17 with such severe damage to the back of her neck from a predator attack that we could see her spine when she was admitted, and there was literally no skin to pull over the wound, which had to granulate in over several weeks.

Every animal has its own special story, and that could not be more true than for the Horned Grebe.  

To give some idea of the area that Fellow Mortals serves, we admit wildlife from two states and over 100 communities.  When people call for help, they often assume we are nearby--since they were referred by a local veterinarian or humane society, when in fact we could be hours away.  This complicates things when a person isn't able to bring the animal to us, and that was the case with the grebe who was discovered by a long-distance truck driver in a parking lot several counties away from Fellow Mortals.

On his way home to Connecticut from Wisconsin with a big fuel truck, Paul just wanted to do the right thing by reporting the injured bird to us.  Little did he know, he was going to be involved in not just one--but two life-saving events.

Given Paul's situation, we knew he couldn't bring the grebe to us, but it needed to be contained so that it wouldn't be run over or taken by a predator before we could get a volunteer to his location.  Following our instructions, Paul gamely parked his rig, went into a local hardware store and explained why he needed a free cardboard box--but didn't want to buy anything, and then made his way back to the grebe--just in time to chase away a hungry red-tailed hawk that wasn't going to have a grebe for lunch today!

Paul was pretty excited when he got back on the phone with us--which he'd dropped in the effort to get to the grebe before the hawk did!  It's probably good he had a little rest before getting back on the road, while he waited for our volunteer to arrive to transport the grebe back to the hospital.

The grebe's story has another twist, because Joseph, the volunteer who drove to meet Paul and bring the grebe to us, was celebrating his birthday, and spent over three hours on the road on his day off, so we made sure to have an ice cream cake ready to thank him in exchange for the bird.

Just another day in the Wonderful World of Wildlife.

For those of you who don't know, Fellow Mortals' logo depicts two Trumpeter Swans--one in flight, one attempting to take flight. Our logo symbolizes the work that we do, the triumph of those wild ones who recover, and our sorrow for those who may not.  Because not all wild ones can heal from their injuries, not all who struggle will ultimately survive--every individual who is released is a cause for celebration as they represent the fruits of the compassion that makes our work possible, and so very necessary.

Horned grebes don't breed in our area of the United States, so once our friend had recovered, we got her back out to a local lake with enough space for her to run across the water and take flight and continue migration to her breeding grounds up north.

The grebe's story doesn't end there though--it circles back to you, because your support is what makes it possible for us to answer the phone, provide advice, give care, maintain the facility and return the grebe and hundreds of others back to the wild after they heal.

So thank you!  And Happy Spring!


White-tailed Deer fawn
White-tailed Deer fawn

Over the last twelve months, we’ve shared stories about some of the special animals in our care through our ‘thank you’ notes and project reports—individual lives that were changed because of your gifts to Fellow Mortals—and those stories are just a tiny fraction of the impact your gifts have made this past year.

Over 2000 birds and mammals received care in 2017, including threatened and endangered species and species of special concern, represented by a Great Egret, Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, [not so] Common Nighthawk, Chuck-will’s Widow and Chimney Swifts, as well as the more familiar wild ones, such as rabbits, squirrels, sparrows and geese.

We hope you know that your support has a direct impact on our ability to provide the necessary food, medicine and supplies needed by all of our patients, but you may not know that you have also had a very important impact on Fellow Mortals’ ability to thrive and grow as an organization.

We are thrilled to announce that the majority of wild ones who received care at the hospital have been, or will be released—and that, thanks to you, Fellow Mortals has been chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to benefit from the experience of a global marketing company.  We have been chosen to partner with GlobalGiving and Dentsu Aegis in the coming year to explore ways to strengthen Fellow Mortals’ mission to help individual wild animals and the people who care about them.

“Eric’s Owl,” “Tiny Tim,” “Chip” beaver, the lead poisoned eagle--every individual creature that has come into our care has allowed us to tell the story of their species or to bring attention to an issue that affects wildlife and the environment.

Thank you for being part of so many positive stories this past year.  Thank you for the gifts which have helped injured wild ones heal, and for the opportunities you make possible by supporting us through GlobalGiving.

My hope in writing to you at the end of another wonderful, tumultuous year is that I can somehow convey our gratitude for the differences you have made--and that you might realize you are an incredibly important part of a groundswell of positive change that can and will lead us into a better future.

Happy New Year from all of us at Fellow Mortals.

For the wild ones,

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk
North American Beaver
North American Beaver


Great horned owl when admitted
Great horned owl when admitted

On a Thursday morning we got a call about a Great Horned Owl sitting in a tree on a walking path; the owl was obviously distressed and its wing appeared to be fractured.

Unfortunately, as the owl was about 15 feet up a tree beside a river, our options for retrieving it and bringing the bird into care were very limited. We called the conservation warden for the region to see if he might be available to check out the situation, as we were an hour away. We gave the caller advice to have a laundry basket ready so that if the owl came down they could cover her to keep her from leaving the area while we worked out transport.

When the owl was still in the same place two hours later--we were starting to get worried, and considered trying putting a ladder up to her, but were concerned she would jump and cause further injury to herself, or that we would just force her to climb higher in the tree. Thankfully our warden called to say he could head to the site--and just after we heard from him, we heard from the person watching the owl that she had finally come down, but had run off into the undergrowth, nowhere to be seen.

The original caller, her husband and a neighbor were about to give up looking for the owl when they saw her floating on a log in the river! The caller's husband donned waders and a fishing net and, with advice from our rehabilitator, went out to try and get the owl to shore. Unfortunately, she again evaded capture and could not be found.

While the owl continued to travel down the river on her log, the warden was driving to the location with three colleagues, arriving just before the sun went down. Using a canoe, they were able to locate the owl who, realizing she was cornered, made one last attempt at freedom--jumping into the river where the wardens were ready to quickly scoop her into a net.

When she arrived at the hospital in the custody of the wardens, we reached to open the box and the owl leapt out--ready for battle! This is the feistiest owl we have ever met, with such a strong will to survive. We were expecting the worst based on what our wardens had been able to describe of the owl's injury; they have seen some horrible injuries, and they knew the wing did not look 'right.'

It should hardly have been surprising that such an unusual owl would have an unusual injury--the metacarpals (fingers) of the wing were caught behind the humerus (upper "arm" bone).  This would be equivalent to you putting your hand over your shoulder behind your back and bringing it out under your arm pit!  We still have no idea how she accomplished this feat!

We are fortunate to have amazing veterinarians who volunteer their skills, expertise and time to help the wildlife on short notice and this owl was seen the very next morning and our veterinarian was able to untangle the wing bones.

The wing is now in a normal position, but is very stiff as you can imagine, so the owl will spend the winter in a large outdoor habitat where she can gradually work to extend the wing enough for flight.  When that happens, she will move to the big flight to build muscle and strength before release.

We are so grateful to the caring people who originally saw the owl and were so determined to help her, and to our dedicated conservation wardens who support and work with us to help wildlife, and to our talented veterinarians.

And we are also especially thankful to you, our supporters – without your support we would not be here to give this owl and so many more like her the chance to recover and heal.

Eagle arrives for examination
Eagle arrives for examination

On July 9, 2017, we received a call about a young Bale Eagle that was obviously in distress.  He had been seen on a roof, then on a small bird bath, then sitting in the middle of a lawn in a residential area.  He was weak and unable to fly more than a few feet.  While we go out on rescues of bigger raptors whenever possible—we could not get to this bird quickly, so after considering the situation and weakened condition of the eagle, we gave instructions to the caller about how to safely contain the young bird for transport without the need to handle it.  

The caller followed our instructions, and used a blanket to gently herd the bird into a big dog crate.  With the help of friends, he did an excellent rescue and drove the young eagle to our hospital immediately.

On examination, the eagle was just eight to ten weeks old, possibly the first to hatch from a newly identified nest in the area.  His mouth and throat were full of blood--he was emaciated, severely dehydrated and infested with mites.  Bald Eagles admitted to Fellow Mortals have weighed as much as 14 pounds—this bird was just 2.2 kg—under 5 pounds.  If not for the intervention of kind people, the eagle likely would have died that night.

While we could provide critical care for the eagle and space to fly, we knew this young bird would need to be with an adult of his own species in order to imprint properly on his own kind.  Although he had the size of an adult, he was still a baby, and in danger of improperly imprinting on humans.  Human-imprinted birds cannot survive in the wild.

Once the eagle had stabilized to the point where he could survive transport, we drove him to friends at another wildlife hospital several hours away where he now continues to heal and mature in the company of other young eagles and an unreleaseable adult Bald Eagle who can teach the young birds vocalizations and behaviors that will help them survive when they are released.

Wildlife rehabilitators work from homes, from centers, from hospitals—but we all work together toward the same end:  release of physically healthy and psychologically normal wild individuals that are equipped to survive and thrive when they return to the wild...

…none of which would be possible without You, and your compassion for wildlife—and your gifts that make happy endings possible for more than 1,000 animals a year.

Dehydrated and emaciated
Dehydrated and emaciated
Feeling stronger
Feeling stronger
Assessment for placement with foster eagle
Assessment for placement with foster eagle
On the road to recovery and release
On the road to recovery and release



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Organization Information

Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital

Location: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.fellowmortals.org
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FellowMortals1
Project Leader:
Yvonne Wallace Blane
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin United States
$63,501 raised of $70,000 goal
1,264 donations
$6,499 to go
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