Posted by: Wild Instincts | March 11, 2014

Be Prepared for Baby Season!

It’s March. It may not look like spring by looking at the snow bank blocking your mailbox, but if you look closely you may spy a raven flying with nest building materials or catch a glimpse of an eagle territorial flight.

All over the U.S., wildlife rehabilitators are gearing up for “Baby Season”, the busiest time of the year. We are making educated guesses about what number of what species of animals may appear at our doors this year. Then we are ordering special formulas to be prepared.  We’re interviewing and hiring interns. We’re taking out a bathtub and putting in a shower in the intern quarters. We’re waiting for the weather to allow enclosure construction and facility improvements.  We’re researching new fluid therapy techniques. We’re wondering if there’ll be another nationwide mealworm and cricket shortage this year and making plans to deal with the possibility.  We’re having meetings to train new volunteers and refresh established ones. We’re exploring avenues of fundraising.  We’re catching up on blogs and newsletters and reports and trying to catch up on things at home that get neglected during the rehab season.

THIS year, because of the crazy weather and record number of patients being overwintered, we’ve spent countless, unplanned hours moving animals that should be outside preparing for their release to inside set ups out of the incredibly long stretches of brutal cold. This adds many hours to the day for cleaning and care. Then there was the snow removal. If it wasn’t cold, it was snowing. Or many times it was both!  All that extra time took away from? Why the catch up time at home, of course, because the animals come first! But who needs to clean the house when you’re so busy you can’t be home to see the mess?

This is the type of thing rehabbers all over the country are doing.

Now you know some of what rehabbers to do prepare for baby season. What can YOU do to prepare?

Did you know not all wildlife rehabilitation facilities are not created equal?

In Wisconsin, wildlife rehabilitators must be permitted. They must pass a written test (that Mark & Sharon helped write) and then be sponsored under an experienced rehabber for two years. During those two years they are only allowed to care for rodents, rabbits, raccoons and maybe songbirds depending on the mentor they have as a sponsor.  After that they may add species, depending on their experience and caging enclosures. There are minimum standards for enclosure design for each species that must be met. Wild Instincts goes beyond minimum standards in our enclosures. Some species require very large enclosures that not all wildlife rehabilitators have the space to provide while other species need special techniques to keep them wild and from getting attached to people. Endangered and Threatened species need another special permit. Wildlife rehabilitation is a complicated profession that’s not as easy as just putting a bunny in a box with some carrots. Wild Instincts has a success rate well above the national average for very good reasons.

Time is of the essence in wildlife rehabilitation. The sooner the animal can get treatment, the better the chance of a positive outcome. The last thing you want to do is hunt around for a wildlife rehab place that is able to treat whatever species is bleeding on your deck while your kids are crying for you to help it.

Wild Instincts is permitted to rehabilitate ALL native Wisconsin wildlife species, including Endangered and Threatened.  This is one of the reason we admit patients from such a large geographic area. Not many centers are permitted and have the facilities to do this. In fact, Wild Instincts is the only one in Northern Wisconsin.

While we’re busy counting down the days until the first baby arrives, you can prepare for baby season by looking up Wildlife Rehabilitators close to you to prepare, just in case.  In Wisconsin the Wildlife Rehabilitator Directory is on line. It is divided by geographic sections of the state and lists all the licensed rehabilitators, their facility AND the animals they are permitted to treat.  

Remember also that there are permitted rehabbers that may take care of animals out of their home. Generally they take care of smaller animals like squirrels, bunnies and maybe opossums. Just because they operate out of their home does not reflect their skill or dedication. Often they specialize in one species and become very skilled at the care of that species.

Check out your area.  Bookmark the link. Put the nearest qualified rehabber ‘s number on your fridge and in your phone for when you’re in the car on the road and see an eagle get hit by a car. You’ll have the correct number at your finger tips and save valuable time-time that will help us help them.

Here’s the link to the Wisconsin Wildlife Rehabilitator Directory:

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/directory.html 

If you’re not in Wisconsin, check out your state’s Department of Natural Resources or similar agency’s website and search for wildlife rehabilitation. There are also helpful links available at

International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council: http://www.theiwrc.org    

National Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Association: http://www.nwrawildlife.org

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