Osprey recovers from being tangled in fishing line
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!!
Orphaned gray squirrel had been rescued from trash
Virginia opossums rescued from dead mother's pouch
Ambassador Ruby shows off her feathers
Staff and volunteers learn at workshop!