Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital

by Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital
Vetted
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

Links:

Supporters at Court
Supporters at Court

Wild birds and mammals who have recovered from critical injuries and spent sometimes months in care spend the final weeks of rehabilitation in the safety, quiet and natural environment outside the hospital, where large trees and dense undergrowth at the front of the Sanctuary shield them from traffic noise and potential harm from people passing by on the road that runs in front of the Sanctuary.  This peace, quiet and safety is threatened with destruction by American Transmission Co. (ATC), which wants to save time and money by cutting everything down once and for all in a 450 foot long path along the front of the Sanctuary--rather than trimming the trees every few years and letting them stand, as has been done since 1970.

If we cannot save the trees and vegetation in the easement, the outdoor flights and habitats will not be safe for wildlife and will become unusable.  Other wildlife facilities have had their permanent education animals stolen and have had wildlife in care injured or killed, which is why we have done everything we can to create a visual and sound barrier for the Sanctuary where wildlife are housed prior to release.

Thanks to the support of our community and people nationwide who have signed our online petition, on July 29, 2016 Fellow Mortals' rehabilitators were present in Court to hear the Judge grant our request for an injunction to stop American Transmission Co. (ATC) from clear cutting the trees and vegetation from the utilities easement.

American Transmission Co. (ATC) had asked the Judge to dismiss Fellow Mortals' request for a temporary restraining order, but the Judge ruled in our favor, and we were allowed to move to a hearing on the evidence.

The Temporary Restraining Order will stand for 90 days.

Our attorneys were wonderful and this achievement was not anticipated by ATC.  The hearing was attended by over 50 supporters, who packed the courtroom, and wore badges that said "Battered, Bruised but Unbroken."

On August 10, a scheduling conference and bond hearing was held.  ATC requested a $1,100,000 bond of Fellow Mortals.  The Judge entered a bond for $108,000.  A four-day trial is set to begin October 10.

ATC wants to make sure they are protected if anything happens while the injunction is in place, and continue to mention "FIRE."  You may remember that Fellow Mortals received a phone call threatening fire, that Sal Dimiceli, long-time supporter of Fellow Mortals and founder of the charity A Time is Now to Help (www.thetimeisnowtohelp.org) received a phone call threatening Fellow Mortals' animals if we did not go along with ATC's demands--and that an ATC employee brought up fire on the stand when he was being questioned in front of the Judge on July 29.

While we have had three victories, we have a long way to go to win and ATC is going to do everything they can to try to stop us.  We feel confident we can prevail and set a precedent that will help others who face similar battles in the future, but we need your help.

The community support we have received locally, regionally and beyond has been what is keeping us strong.  We are so very grateful for each and every one of the 85,000 people who has taken the time to sign our petition, make a donation or say a prayer.  We have raised $20,000 for legal fees so far, but we need to raise much more.

American Transmission Co. (ATC) will fight hard to defeat Fellow Mortals, because they know that if we win, it will help others to protect wildlife, wildlife habitat and property rights in the future.

FACTS:  Clear-cutting or 'vegetation management' to remove 'incompatible species' is NOT required by state or federal law.  Clear-cutting is a company policy, a company choice--that abuses easements to the detriment of the people who live on the property where transmission lines are placed.

The lines in the easement at Fellow Mortals are 138 kV, relatively low voltage.  The lines have not changed since 1970, and the easement for the lines has been maintained by trimming trees for the last 46 years.  Experts have told us that reliability and safety of the electric lines can be maintained by continuing trimming as has been done in the past.  Clear cutting is not necessary.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not require an Environmental Impact Survey before approving the applicaiton of ATC and other companies to institute their 'vegetation management' plan in 2013, stating that it did not anticipate any change from past practice--which was trimming.  You can read more here:  http://www.ferc.gov/industries/electric/indus-act/reliability/vegetation-mgt.asp

ATC stated in court that it intends to 'remove incompatible vegetation'--that is clear cut--under its 9,440 miles of lines--it just hasn't gotten to all of them yet.   In that case, an Environmental Impact Survey must be performed.

We are coming to you, our supporters, to ask you to consider making a generous one-time gift to Save the Sanctuary that Saves Wildlife.   https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/save-the-trees-save-the-sanctuary-fellow-mortals/

A gift to help in this fight will not only help the wild animals who are currently at Fellow Mortals; it will help those who need us in years to come--and, very importantly, your gift will help us set a precedent that can be used to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat nationwide when the case is cited as a precedent in the future.

This Norway Spruce is over 100 years old
This Norway Spruce is over 100 years old
Alberta, 36, lives permanently in the Sanctuary
Alberta, 36, lives permanently in the Sanctuary

Links:

Kaleigh with fledgling merlin
Kaleigh with fledgling merlin

Just like every new patient, this young Merlin's story involves some special people.

Kaleigh Lound arrived at Fellow Mortals to start her internship just ahead of the many injured and orphaned baby birds that were to follow her.  A recent graduate of Grand Valley State University, Kaleigh moved to Wisconsin from Michigan for a nearly year-long wildlife internship.  We couldn't be happier to have her with us!

Kaleigh's normal day starts before 8 a.m. and ends around 10 p.m.--baby birds require frequent feedings that start at sunrise and continue until dark.  Between feedings, Kaleigh mixes formula, cleans incubators, washes syringes and helps with admitting new patients.  While every intern and staff member looks forward to days off and sleeping in, Kaleigh is willing to help even on her days off--including going on rescues when a caller may be elderly, disabled, or without a vehicle.

A couple of weeks ago, we got a call about a bird that had been on the ground all day in the hot sun.  We routinely ask people alot of questions when they call, and sometimes ask for pictures to help us assess a situation, as we never want to take a healthy baby away from its parents. 

Once we saw pictures of the Merlin, we knew it was a young bird but not so young it shouldn't be off the ground, and needed to come into care.  The woman who noticed the bird couldn't leave her elderly mother to bring it to us, however, so enter Kaleigh!  We asked the woman to place a laundry basket over the bird until Kaleigh could get to it.  Laundry baskets are handy because they provide protection from predator-attack and the elements, while keeping the injured animal from leaving the area until it can be helped.

Kaleigh was able to retrieve the bird easily, thanks to the woman following our instructions.  Back at the hospital, we examined the Merlin and found old injuries to both wings--probably caused when it first left the nest.  He was a little thin, a little dehydrated, but the wounds would heal.

Two weeks later, the young fledgling has lost most of his baby down, and is in that 'awkward' teenage phase.  He is also eating like a teenager as he finished growing in his first set of feathers!

Once the Merlin is at the age he would normally leave his parents, and has learned to hunt, he will be released--a happy ending made possible by the woman who cared enough to call, and by Kaleigh, who took the time to help.

Weighing in
Weighing in
Why am I here?
Why am I here?
That awkward age...
That awkward age...

Links:

Eagle in Flight
Eagle in Flight

Dear Friend,

This may not be my best-written post, but it is most sincere.  With all that we have to celebrate this spring--the release of a Bald Eagle and a Peregrine Falcon--the start of construction on a new 2,000 squre foot Critical Care Wing at the hospital--we are fighting to save the beautiful big trees that provide privacy and screening from noise and human activity that is produced by the traffic on the road that runs in front of our hospital.

After 21 years at Fellow Mortals' present location--chosen in large part for the mature spruce and walnut trees on the property--American Transmission Company (ATC) showed up in February and announced their plan to clear-cut 50 feet back from the electric line--removing a century old spruce and dozens of other small walnut trees and all of the rest of the undergrowth in the easement, and has been trimmed in years past.

This property was specifically chosen based on its location and the mature trees on the property that had been there for decades, before and after the electric line went in.

While critical care and recovery happen inside the hospital, when wildlife nears release, birds and mammals are moved to outside acclimitization habitats and flights where they once again are exposed to rain and cold, natural photocycles and the natural sounds of the wild to which they will return.

Located centrally to the region we serve on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, the location of the hospital on Palmer Road was the perfect combination of rural quiet and accessibility--until now.

If ATC is successful in its plan to clear cut in front of the hospital, the sanctuary will never be the same--privacy, security and protection from noise and human activity and potential interference will be the cost and outside habitats may become unusable.

In the past few months, we have been working quietly to reason with ATC to make an exception for the wildlife to no avail.  We offered to pay for the trimming to save this business the cost.  We offered to let them take some of the cover but preserve the big trees.  We asked about moving the electric lines.  We asked them to make an exception--there are no other wildlife hospitals in the state affected in this way.

We have now hired an attorney and are partnering with the Humane Society of the United States to try to save the very special place that means the difference between life and death for 2000 wild animals every year.

Clear-cutting of the easement on the property isn't a federal or state regulation--it is a choice by a for-profit business that cares about nothing more than its bottom line.  This company seemingly answers to no one.  It has more power than any private business should.

If you would like to make a special gift to help with wildlife care at this time, it would be very much appreciated, as we have not been able to write for grants or to our regular donors while fighting this important battle for the future of the sanctuary.

I will update you on this issue as soon as we have any news.

If you would like to follow this issue in the meantime, please visit our Facebook page:  Fellow Mortals Wildlfie Hospital.

Links:

Yearling male beaver
Yearling male beaver

Every time we use the gifts you provide through Global Giving, we think carefully about what the wild ones need, and how best to make your donations go as far as possible.  As a tax-exempt organization, we don't pay sales tax on purchases, so that money can be used for other things.  We also work hard to forge relationships with manufacturers and suppliers who will provide services or items at a discount.  When we do go to spend money, we have made sure it goes as far as possible!

Last month, your gifts through Global Giving meant nearly $900 was available for the wild ones at the hospital!  Your gifts fed 200 animals for a whole week--and, you purchased a box of 100 x-ray films and the chemicals to develop them--and, you helped a sandhill crane and a great horned owl fight infection with a powerful and very expensive antibiotic. 

But that's not all you did last month--you even made some special Valetine's Day enrichment possible for two very special animals.

We have many overwintering squirrels, ducks, geese and owls, and we also have two beaver in long-term care.
Beaver rehabilitation is a long process. A minimum of two years in care is required before release, as the young rely upon their families to help build a lodge and store food to survive the harsh winters. As we continue to follow the progress of "Kesha," a hand-raised baby released in 2012 with a rehabilitated male beaver, we are working with our current beaver in the hopes that they can be released together next summer.

The female beaver and male beaver spend 'supervised' play time together as we gradually introduce them to each other's smell and behavior.  Eventually, when they let us know they are ready, they will move in together for rest of their time in rehabilitation in preparation for release.
After a Valentine's Beaver play date, Chip and Angel took their new pillows back home to soak them in their pools and add them to their squishy, squashy bedding...a process that has been repeated every day since, as beavers love Laundry Time!  What can we say! It's the beaver way:)
Thank you for all you make possible in so many ways.
With heartfelt thanks,
Yvonne
Female beaver watching for male
Female beaver watching for male 'play date'
I think I like you!
I think I like you!
Valentine Pillow for the Girl of the Lodge
Valentine Pillow for the Girl of the Lodge
...and one for you.
...and one for you.

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital

Location: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.fellowmortals.org
Project Leader:
Yvonne Wallace Blane
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin United States
2016 Year End Campaign
Time left to give
$45,885 raised of $70,000 goal
 
839 donations
$24,115 to go
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