Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Real-Life Version of "It's a Wonderful Life"

On November 20th, WINC received an injured Peregrine Falcon that was found on the ground in Watertown. The bird had injuries caused by a probable gunshot wound. We had the bird x-rayed to check for fractured bones and gunshot pellets. Luckily, the gunshot did not break any bones, and there were no bullets or shotgun pellets remaining in her body. However, it did go completely through the wing and broke several critically-important primary flight feathers.

Peregrine Falcons are endangered in Wisconsin. Researchers band nearly all urban-nesting Peregrine Falcons. Since this bird was aleady banded, we were able to determine her identity. "Jesse," was hatched in 2008 in a nest box in Genoa, Wisconsin, near the Mississippi River. In 2010 she nested on the North Tower of Mayfair Mall and produced four chicks. The nest box is still on the roof top in hopes that the peregrines will return there to nest year after year.

We sutured Jesse's puncture and treated her with antibiotics and pain releivers. After the wounds healed, she needed one more procedure: she needed her broken feathers "imped." Imping is a falconry term that means splicing replacement feathers from a "donor" bird of the same species, into the broken feather shafts of the recipient. Without this procedure it would take Jesse an entire year to molt in replacements for her broken primary feathers, and without these feathers, she could barely fly and thus could not be released. Since we did not have any Peregrine Falcon feathers to use, we sent the bird to The Raptor Center in Minneapolis for the feather imping procedure. They implanted new feathers and returned the bird to us in a week.

On Thursday morning, December 22nd, I met WINC Wildlife Rehbilitator Chelsea Matson with "Jesse," Greg Septon, the Director of the Wisconsin Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project, and videographers from TV channels 6 and 12 at the North Tower of Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa.

video


When we arrived, we noticed Jesse's mate, "Polyo," on a ledge near the top of the building! Greg told us that Polyo continues to roost on the building and hunt nearby. When not nesting, female Peregrine Falcons tend to wander more than the males. With the assistance of Greg Septon, and permission from Mayfair Mall, we were able to take Jesse to the roof nest box for the release.

She flew beautifully and much to our delight, Polyo vocalized and joined Jesse in circling the building. They both landed on a ledge just below the roof. We'll keep our fingers crossed, and hope Jesse and Polyo return to nest on the roof of Mayfair's North Tower in the summer of 2011.

Guest Blogger C.D.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sometimes saying good-bye isn't easy

On December 16, 2010 our beloved American Kestrel and Educational Ambassador, Indigo, passed away.


Indigo originally arrived at WINC in October of 2005 from another rehabilitator. He came to us with a permanent shoulder injury that prevented him from ever being able to fly normally. We knew, because of his injury, that he was unreleasable and therefore was going to be fulfilling a very important role as one of our educational ambassadors. Indigo has touched the lives of staff, volunteers and those who were fortunate enough to meet him during educational programs. Our educational animal team would not have been the same without him and he is irreplaceable.

Thank you to all of those who have cared for Indigo during his time with us. He will forever be in our hearts and will be dearly missed by all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Update on Jesse and her Detour to Freedom

Today I found a post on a list called Falcon Cam mentioning "Jesse" the Peregrine Falcon and her progress since being rescued (from a probable gunshot wound) from a roadside in Watertown, Wisconsin. She has since, as they noted, and as you read in my previous post, been transferred to the Raptor Center of Minnesota. We recieved news this week that the imping was successful and that Jesse is again fully flighted! She will remain in the care of the Raptor Center for a few more days until they are certain the procedure is successful and could be coming home to be released very soon.

After her release we will definitely share news of the wonderful event -and hopefully we'll be watching Jesse for many years to come!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another leg has been added to the journey home for “Jesse” the Peregrine Falcon

The Wildlife In Need Center will transfer the Falcon to world-renowned Raptor Center of Minnesota for further expert care


Oconomowoc, Wisconsin - December 15, 2010 - On Saturday the 20th of November a large trash receptacle arrived at the Wildlife In Need Center from Watertown, Wisconsin. Inside the receptacle was a Peregrine Falcon that had been rescued from the side of the road. The injury is suspected to have been a result of a gunshot but has healed well through supportive care. Her initial release had to be postponed due to some damaged feathers and she is now on her way to the Raptor Center of Minnesota, a world-renowned care facility specializing in birds of prey, for follow-up care.

Peregrine populations plummeted in the mid-20th century especially from the East Coast into the Midwest. Although their numbers have risen in recent years, so much so that they were recently removed from the Federal Endangered Species List, they are still considered Endangered and of Critical Concern in the state of Wisconsin. Although reports come in annually, Peregrines are still not a common sight in most counties across the state.

This particular bird was also banded giving us a unique look into where she’d come from before needing the Wildlife In Need Center. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service this bird was hatched in Genoa, Wisconsin in 2008. There, she was banded and nicknamed “Jesse.” This year she hatched and raised 4 young birds in the WE energies nest box at the Mayfair Mall site in Milwaukee.

Although she’s already traveled some great distances in her life, the rehabilitation process will be her most triumphant. The very first leg of her journey to recovery was an X-ray followed by two weeks of supportive care. Due to the injury, some of Jesse’s feathers were broken and during her stay several more were damaged making her immediate release no longer possible. The Raptor Center has not only agreed to take Jesse into their care to perform a procedure called “imping” which will replace the missing feathers, but they have also offered to pay the costs involved with the transfer of the bird. If the surgery goes well we will work with the Raptor Center to determine the best timeline for transferring Jesse back to Wisconsin and ultimately her release back to the wild.




Fun Facts:

An adult Peregrine can travel at speeds exceeding 25mph and over 300mph when dropping out of the sky after its prey.

This hunting tactic is why they prefer to nest on rocky ledges of steep bluffs or especially in urban areas, ledges on high-rise buildings.

Peregrine means “wanderer” and certain birds that nest in parts of Canada have the longest migration routes of any other bird in North America.

For more information you can also visit the following resources:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology at: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Peregrine_Falcon/id

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at: http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/biodiversity/index.asp?mode=info&Grp=7&SpecCode=ABNKD06070

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rescues Gone Awry Part III

Did you enjoy the antics and harrowing efforts relayed by Lisa in previous posts? If so, you're in for another treat!

Summer Sun

Anyone who knows me knows that woodchucks have a special place in my heart. I am always stopping to check animals by the road to see if it’s still alive, and if dead, is it a nursing mother in season. If so, I have spent days walking the area and looking for the burrow to try to capture the nursing babies who would otherwise starve. One summer morning stopped at a stop sign on my way to work, I looked across the intersection to see a woodchuck lying flattened in the road. I drove across to see if the woodchuck was still alive and to check to see if it was a nursing female whose babies I should try to find. I parked on the shoulder and walked to the woodchuck who was about two inches thick on the road. As I got within about five feet of it, it looked up at me, glared, and scampered off to the tall grass on the side of the road. It was a cool morning and the woodchuck was lying on the black pavement sunbathing! Woodchucks can get amazingly flat and they do like to sunbath on cool days, soaking up summer heat. This one was absorbing heat from the pavement as well as from the sunlight. But it certainly wasn’t doing so in a safe location so I don’t regret interrupting its morning ablutions.

Frosty feathers

The caller said that a goose was frozen into the new ice on a local lake. We often get calls like this with our first freezes of the year. I have not yet had an actual case of waterfowl being frozen into the lake. The waterfowl will float on the water with their feet tucked up in their warm downy feathers. When the water freezes a few feathers may be caught in the ice, but the ice freezes slowly and the bird is warm so they don’t get actually frozen into the ice to the point where the animal is trapped. The first freezes are so tin that the bird can easily pull loose. Later the ice is thick enough that the birds lay on top of the ice. I cautioned the caller against going onto the ice as it would not be safe for a persons weight, but suggested they try skipping some small stones or sticks towards to bird to see if they could get the bird to move to prove to them it wasn’t stuck. I once used a remote controlled toy truck to drive onto ice to scare some domestic geese into moving on ice to chase them to shore. The person called back later to sheepishly admit that on closer inspection the goose was a decoy. I thanked them anyway for their concern for an animal they felt was in need of help.

A number of waterfowl will choose to brave our Wisconsin winters if they have access to regularly open water and a food source
Is that a Bird?

Sometimes people need help that is more than we can provide. A few years ago someone called to report large black birds that were carrying people away in Waukesha. Our office person asked questions to make sure this was not a prank. She then tried to reassure the caller that in Wisconsin we do not have birds large enough to carry full grown adults away. But the caller insisted that these giant birds were actually picking up adult people and flying away with them. They had seen this happen with their own eyes. No amount of discussion would dissuade the person. In that case we suggested to the caller that this was a situation we were not equipped to handle and asked for their name and contact information. We asked them to call the police to report this situation and gave them the non-emergency number. We also called the non-emergency police number to describe the phone call and ask that the police do a welfare check on this person as there appeared to be a problem with reality. The police didn’t call back to let us know what happened of course. But I did watch the news the next few days and did not hear of the rediscovery of extinct pterodactyls in Waukesha so feel we assessed the situation correctly.

Guest Blogger LR

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Wintery Conclusion to One Outrageous Day

Winter at the Wildlife In Need Center
As we watch some of the first significant snowflakes fall to the ground I’m remembering the busy days behind us and thought I would finish telling you the tale I began a few weeks ago of just one day this past summer at the Wildlife In Need Center.

When I left you last the office was humid and a balmy 85 degrees and a number of meetings had been interrupted for a variety of reasons and I had just walked outside, heading towards the other building which houses our animal care clinic with two squirrels and a bird I had just admitted… While I was gone Rose came into the office to ask Lisa a question. In the midst of answering her question she had to take a phone call. This phone call was from a woman who had an Owl in her pear tree.

Since Lisa had just spent about 10 minutes on the phone I answered it the next time it rang. This time the caller had problems with woodchucks in her yard that she wanted advice about. She believed that they were a breeding pair and that if she didn’t do something about them soon she would end up with an entire colony of them. This, of course wasn’t the case and she was relieved to hear so, but she did likely have a mother and a daughter attempting to burrow near her foundation. We went through the humane options she had available to her and left her with a plan for the next week to mitigate the situation.

Trying to accomplish what needs to get done is difficult enough when the phones and admissions come at such a steady pace, but the computers also lend to the problem. Playing “computer musical chairs” is a game played often around here. While waiting for my computer to respond I answered another phone call, this one from a local media outlet. They had heard about one of the patients we had recently admitted from a volunteer and wanted to do a story on them and their progress. I had to take a message so that I could find out the information they needed. When I wanted to call the reporter back however, I had to wait as we only have one phone line set-up to make outgoing long-distance phone calls (because of the rural area WINC is located in most of our phone calls are long-distance) and someone else was using it to return another phone call.

While I was waiting I decided to make some copies of a document I was going to need the following day. Using the copy machine on a hot, humid day proved to be a mistake as I was only able to do about half the job before it stopped working. Because we have a service agreement on the machine for situations just like this we contacted the company and placed a request.

It was just as well that I was done with that project for the time because it was just then that 2 new volunteers came over with their training checklists asking if I could go through the office portion for them. Mid-way through the training the phone rang and it was another caller dealing with some mischievous young woodchucks so I provided them with the information they needed to make an educated plan to humanely discourage them from continuing their antics and returned to my training.

Just when the new volunteers left and I thought I might be able to get back to what I had started earlier in the day the phone rang again and this time it was regarding a goose. The goose’s mate had apparently been hit by a vehicle a day or two prior and it had so far refused to leave its side. There was much concern regarding the dangerous area the goose was in, but as there was nothing physically wrong with it the bigger concern would be that attempting to capture it would surely drive it into traffic and certain injury or death itself. Geese are surprisingly social animals, but more on that another time. After a call tugging on your emotions like that one I often wish I could take a 15 minute break to clear my head, but when it’s summer that’s just not always a possibility.

As I hung up the phone someone was walking in with a box-full of orphaned cottontails that needed our experienced care if they were to survive. I admitted them, brought them to the clinic for some pedialyte and a soft-warm bed to rest in and returned to the office.

Speaking of a warm, cozy place, as you curl up at home tonight just remember to think of how amazing our wild neighbors are, surviving Wisconsin winters without the luxuries we have. And when the day comes that one of them needs the Wildlife In Need Center, we hope you’ll join us to make sure we’re here.


Thanks for Caring!


Save the Date! We'll be celebrating Groundhog's Day at the Waukesha Elks Lodge on Wednesday, February 2nd!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One Outrageous Day

 Yesterday we admitted our first patient in four days. This is the time of year when things start to slow down in the animal world which gives the Wildlife In Need Center volunteers and staff time to clean up, rearrange and set-up for the winter months ahead. This unusually long stretch without patients made me think about the not-so-distant summer days when organizing files, catching up on emails, and planning ahead didn’t even make it on the to do list. I thought I’d share some of the details of one such day…

On this particular day I arrived at the office to find our Wildlife Education Coordinator, Leslie, already in, attempting to get caught up on some paperwork for upcoming programs. Even though our office wasn’t technically open yet, she had already admitted an injured bird and answered several questions posed by its rescuers as to how we would care for it. By the time I arrived she had also had to switch to the extra computer on the office counter because her normal one was working very slowly and she was having trouble opening some of the programs she needed.

Meanwhile, Lisa, the Director of Operations came in just after I did, donning her sweats and a respirator and armed with painting supplies. It turns out earlier in the summer the drainage pipe for our air conditioner had backed up and several weeks ago we arrived to discover a flood on the floor of the executive director’s office. The damage was severe enough that we had to remove the carpeting, which meant we had to remove all of the furniture first. Unfortunately, this office space was also home to a very important storage area for things like extra stationary, computer supplies and some donated auction items. But I digress. Feeling that it was unfair to ask a volunteer to do such an unpleasant job, Lisa had arrived prepared to put the final coat of paint on the, by now cleaned and primed, wood floor.

Sometime shortly after Lisa got started, Mike, the Executive Director arrived. Because his office was currently dismantled he had to use an open computer in the main office are, making it a full space. While this number was alright with all of us, it was not however, for Karen, our Volunteer Coordinator and Operational Team Leader who was hoping to use a spare computer to print a document she needed. She originally had a printer on her desk which resided in our Baby Bird Nursery, but it was rendered unusable when several resident mice decided to open up a new a hotel inside of it. A similar thing happened to one of the two computers being used by our Wildlife Rehabilitation Staff; now they have to take turns using a spare computer as well.

Throughout the year a long-time supporter and volunteer, Rose, and her community action team of young men from Lad Lake will come out to the Center to assist with myriad projects ranging from cleaning and building cages to mowing the lawns. This particular day they were here to assist with re-sanding our crow aviary.

At this time Mike, Lisa and I had just sat down to discuss the progress on our upcoming Charity Golf Fundraiser. We hadn’t gotten through half of our agenda when one of our office volunteers, Pam, pulled into the parking lot, her SUV filled with dog food donated by a local pet supply company. We managed to get the gentlemen from Lad Lake, who were taking a break from hauling sand, to assist in transporting the 20lb and 40lb bags into our basement to be stored until they were needed. Pam had promised to drop off a donation receipt to the retailer on her way back. This meant that she had to use my computer to do it.

Our meeting was coming to a close with all of the commotion anyway, but was officially over when a patient came in to be admitted for care. The patient was a Pigeon, complete with a band on its leg, which means it is a domestic/racing/homing pigeon. When we speak to people on the phone about these birds we direct them to visit the website www.pigeon.org to enter the band numbers and hopefully track down the owners rather than bring them into us or a local domestic shelter that may not know how to care for it properly. His rescuers however, believed it to be injured and hoped that we would be more equipped to assist than the domestic shelters nearby.

It was still only mid morning when one of the local humane societies contacted us with a young rabbit that had been brought to them. One of our afternoon volunteers that day often stops at a local grocery store to pick-up produce and fish that is going to be thrown out. This is great because it means he goes past the shelter before he comes here to volunteer; it also means he leaves his house earlier so we have to catch him before he does since he doesn’t have a cell phone. We attempted to contact him, but were too late so, as we’ve had to do several other times, we called the store and gave the message to the individual he was headed to see. Then all we could do was wait to see if the message was received.

As the morning turned into afternoon it began to heat up in the office. Leslie had left for the day and Mike was preparing to as well, which would help having fewer people in the crowded room, but with the windows open to vent the paint fumes, we were still subject to the rising humidity and heat.

At this point in the day we hope that things slow down so that we can get a few things checked off of our list before the end of the day (I say we hope because some days this is the case, but not this day). Someone walked in with orphaned squirrels in a wastebasket which I volunteered to bring directly up to the triage room to be transferred to a baby bin by Animal Care Staff. I directed her how to complete the paperwork we need to properly admit and care for them as patients while I was gone. Before I could leave the office however, another woman came through the door with another box containing a small bird. I directed her also, to complete the paperwork we needed and took all of the patients up to the clinic. For those of you who don’t know, our current facility was built out of an old farmstead. The office is housed in what used to be a garage and is separated from the main building by a minute’s walk along the sidewalk. Today the walk was nice, as the breeze outside was much more tolerable than the humid air in the office. In the winter this walk isn’t always as pleasant, especially when you are walking it to get to the only restroom on the property….

The best part about having fewer phone calls and fewer patients being admitted is that, hopefully it means fewer animals are getting into harms way than during the summer months when they are searching for safe places to keep their young, feeding their families and generally trying to survive. At this point in my story it was still before 1PM but I can’t help but return to the present on this cold, rainy November day. I have to remind myself that even though it was a long hot summer and a long, cold winter lies ahead (in an office sitting on a cement slab with little insulation, and inadequate doors and windows) that our wild neighbors will still need us. I’m reminded of that already as today I’ve answered many more phone calls, admitted 2 patients and as the evening approaches we’ll be waiting on more.

The excitement is rising for the new Wildlife In Need Center facility and we want to share our progress with you! Visit our new blog dedicated to the construction and capital campaign progress at http://www.newwincfacility.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Harrowing Rescue Tail

Back in June of this year strong tornados came through southern Wisconsin taking down power lines and causing damage to homes of both people and animals alike. In the days after the storms had passed, one call we received was a caring woman who had a young a bald eagle that she thought was in need of help. Here at the Wildlife In Need Center we generally rely on the public to bring us injured, sick or orphaned wildlife but in some situations we are able to send trained volunteers or staff out on rescues. In this instance, Rick, a dedicated volunteer was able to help. After a long drive winding through the aftermath of the storms and avoiding all of the turtles that had found their way onto the road, Rick finally arrived at the start of his journey.

When Rick arrived at the home of the caller she showed him there they eagle was; perched in a very large tree over a ravine filled with other trees and vines covering the ground. Things were about to get difficult. The branch that the eagle was on was at the same level as the top of the ravine but too far away to simply reach out to. Rick attempted to use a net that was attached to a pole. It was just long enough to reach the bird but it kept getting tangled in the tree. At this point Rick had assessed the bird from a distance and realized that it was a younger bird and that it was pretty emaciated and most likely dehydrated. Because the bird was young, it's likely it was still unskilled in hunting and may have become too weak to fly well. This can be dangerous even though there weren't any substantial injuries because being too weak to fly means that he wouldn't be able to hunt which is how he became weaker to begin with. Rick succeeded in nudging the bird out of the tree and it glided to the ravine floor.

Rick followed the bird into the ravine full of tangled vines. He crept closer and closer to the eagle and just when he had it in his sights, the bird hopped away. This struggle continued across the ravine for about an hour, but even while tripping on and getting tangled in the vines with every move, Rick was not about to give up. He asked for help and even though the woman who called was not able to herself, she found other caring neighbors that could. The new recruits formed a human wall behind the bird to keep it from escaping onto the clearing and Rick moved in again. This time he successfully captured the eagle in a large blanket.

The bald eagle was, as Rick predicted, emaciated, dehydrated and very underweight. After spending just a night at WINC it was transferred to a rehabber at Pineview for expert care in a facility with more resources for the size and care required for this type of bird. After such a difficult rescue Rick wanted to make sure the eagle did well and asked to be kept informed on its rehabilitation progress. After the eagle had been returned to health Rick received another call, but this time it was to be there for the release back into the wild of the eagle he worked so hard to rescue.

Without teamwork this eagle’s story may not have had such a happy ending. Teamwork between staff, volunteers and the public is key in the success of both rescuing and rehabilitating an animal. If this caring woman had not made the call we would have never known there was an eagle in need of our help. Without dedicated volunteers or the other caring individuals who offered assistance, the eagle may not have been able to get the help it needed and this hard to top rescue may not have been such a success.

Rehabbers from the Center the Eagle was transferred to and cared for at release it back to its home territory while Rick photographed the moment he had been hoping to see since he first rescued the bird.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A kid from Chicago

Although we are not set up to be open to the public we are still happy to encourage the learning and respect that come from getting the opportunity to see (and interact) with our wild neighbors.

That’s why I agreed to have a young gentleman and his younger sister come in one day this summer with their extended family with whom he was staying for the weekend. The adults in the group explained that the kids were from Chicago so while visiting, they were looking for as many opportunities as possible to get them outside to see both animals and nature.

As I mentioned, and many of you know, anytime the public gets beyond the doors of our office it is a rare situation as we are not permitted to operate as a nature center or zoo. Several of our permitted educational ambassadors are housed in or near our office however, and they also work with people all year long through scheduled educational outreach programs. Because of this and the fact that the beautiful weather was helping to keep our wild neighbors out of trouble (the office was not too busy) I agreed to speak with them for a short time about the Center and share some of these ambassadors with them.

First they were introduced to the Center and what we do. Currently, our office is home to Slither, a Western Fox Snake, Maize, a Corn Snake, and Jewel, an Ornate Box Turtle (an endangered species in Wisconsin). Although some people get a little squeamish around reptiles and amphibians, most children are naturally curious and giving them the opportunity to interact with animals who have been trained to work with people helps to give them a more positive outlook and respect for these creatures who serve an important purpose in our lives.

Next, we walked outside to check on Dakota, our educational Great Horned Owl and Indigo, our educational American kestrel in their outdoor enclosures. The young man was absolutely fascinated by Dakota as he had never seen an owl in person before. Lastly, we stopped by the outdoor enclosure of Waldo, our educational Woodchuck. Waldo was lounging in his hollow log to keep cool in the midday sun but was content to have us enjoy him from afar. The entire family was thrilled by the concept of being able to see such an animal so close up, especially such a handsome specimen.

With construction of our new facility including an entirely new educational wing we are calling “the gathering area,” we hope to have this kind of impact on many more young people who may never have these opportunities otherwise. Our hope is that the educational experience itself will be enhanced exponentially through displays, video monitors, interactive materials and more. If you would like to help support our educational mission please consider making a donation to help cover the cost of these new materials, tools and books. You can do so online or over the phone with a credit card or by mail. You can also stop by our current location any day of the week between 9AM and 5PM. For more information about our education outreach program or our new facility visit our website.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To trap or not to trap, that is the question

A phone call I received today was a rather unique one. The woman had gone to her basement door last night to see what her dog was getting excited about and when she opened it a small creature streaked past her and into the basement. At some point this morning he had found his way upstairs and into a bathroom which is where she trapped it as she made her phone call for advice.

Normally we don’t recommend using the “answer to every problem” live-trap to solve conflicts between people and their wild neighbors. This situation proved difficult however, as the animal was clearly hiding in a room far from the nearest outdoor exit in a house with 2 large dogs.

We determined that the wayward creature was likely a weasel. The plan was to locate a very small live-trap baited with canned cat food and place it in the closed room. In these situations we always advise homeowners to do their best to locate the point of entry and close it if they can (in this case it was a coincidence involving a door so it was an easy solution) and then release the animal to a safe corner of their property. We’ll come back to this story in a moment.

The next call I received was from a woman who had a Virginia Opossum in a live-trap. She had successfully trapped and “relocated” 3 in the past week and wondered if there was something less time-consuming that could relieve her of the midnight garbage raiders. Our conversation was a helpful one; I explained to her that not only was relocating these animals a lot of work for her, but it was also not the best solution – nor legal! After our discussion, she had a number of recommendations that she was going to set out to implement. Because the animals were getting into the trash, other than putting straps, locks or bungee cords on the container, one option was for her to contact her waste disposal company to find out if she could exchange her current receptacle for a clean, new one that didn’t have such a strong odor, or barring that, taking the time to thoroughly clean the one she was using. She was also going to try leaving the lights on in the area the receptacles were kept to force any potential raiders to commit their crimes in the light. Because she was not providing any other food sources (neither her nor her immediate neighbors were feeding birds or other pets outdoors) these few tactics should do the trick.

Opossums are by nature nomadic and they generally only stay in one area if they consistently find food there. They are not picky when it comes to food, but if they can’t find enough they will move on to other areas where they can. Keeping up food and implementing small things that change the landscape that animals are used to or startle them when they least expect it are often all it takes to solve conflicts in a humane manner. Even if being humane isn’t your top priority (why are you reading this blog then?), the safety, hassle and legality of trapping and relocating animals should be.

The second woman thanked me for all of the information and I think that she will have a much better week now. Back to the first caller. Shortly after we talked she had gone to the bathroom to check on the status of her uninvited guest and brought with her a heavy bag and a piece of bologna. When she opened the door he was peering around a corner at her so she instinctively tossed the bologna into the bag and held it in the doorway in front of her. Surprisingly, he was hungry enough to be fooled with her behind the door and voluntarily walked right into the bag to enjoy his feast. She was able to safely bring him to the long grassy area in the back of her property and release him back to his home and duty of controlling the rodent population there.

Two different traps, two different reasons, and at least two happy endings. If you have a friend or a neighbor experiencing conflicts with their wild neighbors and considering using a trap to solve them, suggest that they give their nearest wildlife rehabilitator a call for advise that may be better for both them and the animals.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Canadian Geese in Wisconsin Falls

No, I don’t mean the Dells. Whether you like them or not, Canada Geese are a big part of the fall landscape in southeastern Wisconsin. Large flocks descend on recently harvested corn fields and area lakes and streams. This is also the time of year when caring people will start to notice those unfortunate souls who get left behind.

Just today I answered a half dozen calls each regarding a different goose in similar situations. Our mission to rehabilitate any wild animal native to Wisconsin remains the same regardless of the time of year, but the calls and patients we get in the fall, especially the latter part of the season are some of the most difficult for both the animals as well as the people involved.

Of course each situation is different, but many have the same obstacles to overcome:

  • The goose spends most of its time on water where it is difficult or impossible for a human (or any other predator) to catch him
  • The goose can still run even when she does come out of the water making it easier for her to duck, dive and hide in the bushes where she’s safe from predators (us)
The other reason many of the calls we receive about geese this time of year are difficult is that injuries sustained a few weeks (in some cases even a few months) ago are unlikely to be repairable. If an injury is severe enough to keep a bird from doing what comes natural to it, namely flying, and it goes unnoticed and untreated for too long, the chance that we will be able to re-set it and convince it to heal properly is small. Due to regulations and the inability to survive if done so, we cannot generally just amputate the injured area. Even if we could, the animals overall health is often not good enough to ensure their survival through the process or follow-up care.

If you see a goose, duck or other type of waterfowl that you think needs help please gather the following information before contacting your nearest rehabilitator.

  • Where has the animal been seen most often and how near is it to water
  • What behaviors (holding out or dragging one wing, noticeably limping, unable to balance) are you witnessing that could help us pinpoint the injury
  • How close has a person walking been able to get to the animal before it responds (ie. tries to run away, dives into the water, or perhaps it can’t move at all)
With geese that aren’t yet approachable but are obviously injured the best situation would be for someone frequenting the area to offer up small tidbits of food like cracked corn, rolled oats or bird seed. This lulls the animal into a sense of security and will hopefully give that individual or one of our volunteers a better chance at getting close enough to contain the animal when it is up and away from the water's edge.
If you have any questions about an animal you think needs help always contact your local rehabilitator for advice and guidance.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rescues Gone Awry Continued

Those of you who are regular readers may recall last week's harrowing tales of rescues gone awry. After being dedicated to the cause for as many years as Lisa’s been, she had lots of stories to share so I wanted to offer a few more.

Turtle Crossing

Driving down Highway 94 west during the summer, I saw a flash of what appeared to be a turtle on the side of the road. A dark olive, almost black color body with a bright yellow throat - Oh no! – a Threatened species, a Blanding’s turtle. By the time I realized what I had seen at 65 miles an hour, I was well past it and had to go to the next exit, take 94 east, exit and go back west. I saw the turtle ahead still on the shoulder, not in the road, thank goodness. I pulled over and jumped out to grab the turtle before it was hit by a car. It was an olive colored canteen with a bright yellow lid, which was popped open, pointing upward. I rescued it anyway. Another time during the summer when turtles were crossing the roads to lay eggs, I was driving and saw a turtle laying on the road. I stopped to rescue it, but it was a piece of car tire. I have also stopped to rescue several snakes that turned out to be car engine belts.

Blandings turtles may be endangered, but nearly all of the reptiles and amphibians native to Wisconsin are experiencing population declines due to loss of habitat and interactions with people (and our vehicles)

Seeing isn’t always believing

Driving to work one morning east on Highway 94, I saw a red-tailed hawk sitting on the west 94 shoulder. Probably hit by a vehicle, it was sitting injured or stunned on the shoulder. I exited east 94, went back west bound. I scanned the shoulders as I drove but did not see any hawk on the shoulder on either side of the road. Maybe it was just stunned and flew away, maybe it was eating roadkill on the shoulder and flew away. I exited west 94 and returned to east 94 to head back to work. As I approached the same spot, the red-tail was back on the shoulder. I looked more carefully at the location, marking landmarks in my mind so I could more accurately pinpoint where the hawk was. Exit east 94, back on west 94. As I approached the spot, I pulled off on the shoulder and put my flashers on. No hawk on the shoulders. Looking further, I spotted the red-tailed hawk sitting on top of a fence post in the far ditch. I walked towards it and it flew off, giving me a haughty stare. From east 94, I could not see the fencepost in the ditch; the optical illusion was that the hawk was standing on the shoulder of the raised highway. So, laughing at myself, but glad the hawk wasn’t hurt, I drove off west 94 once again and head back on east 94 to work.

Our educational Red-tailed Hawk, Raenah, was a victim of a vehicle strike

Guest Blogger LR

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rescue Mishaps: Not what you'd expect

I’ve done many rescues for the Wildlife In Need Center over the years and most go well, a few crazily wrong, but some turn out altogether not to be quite what they seem. Now that we’re coming to the end of the busy season I thought I would relate some of these adventures.

Decoys gone wild

Driving down Highway 18 east of Wales, on the way to Brandybrook Community Center for a fall volunteer meeting a few years ago, my eye was caught by a white owl sitting on a fence post in a field. Unless it was a rare albino, the only owl we ever see in Wisconsin that is white is a Snowy Owl. We do not normally have Snowy Owl in Wisconsin as they live in the Arctic. But sometimes in winter when there is a cyclical crash in their lemming food populations, Snowy Owls will come further south looking for food. I wanted a closer look to see what that owl was. I turned around, drove back and stopped my car before I got the owl. The owl’s back was facing me and across the ditch and field I could see barbed wire twined around the post and the owls feet appeared to be tangled in the wire. I quietly got out of my car (owls can hear a mouse the distance of a football field so I’m sure it wasn’t quiet to the owl), put on my leather handling gloves and grabbed a towel. I knew I would have to subdue the owl quickly because I did not want it to thrash its feet and shred them on the barbed wire. I crept up behind the owl and was almost ready to throw my towel over it when I stopped. The owl was a plastic Great Horned Owl decoy that was so weathered the paint had worn off leaving the white plastic showing through. The barbed wire was holding it to the post. Obviously it had been there for years and I had driven past many times never noticing it. Some wildlife professional I was to mistake a decoy for a real owl! When I arrived at Brandybrook I related my story to explain my lateness. When I told people that I had stopped for a white owl on a fence post, several said “It’s a decoy!” Apparently I was not the only one fooled by a decoy.

Flightless in the rain

A call came to WINC during a driving rainstorm. Someone had called someone else to report seeing a hawk hit by a car south of Waukesha on Highway 59 between Highway 164 and Highway XX. Because I didn’t talk to the witness I didn’t have an exact location. But I did have extra coverage in the office so off I went to see if I could find the hawk. I drove east on 59 looking on both sides of the road for a hawk in the rain. Then I saw a crumpled mottled gray form laying against the fast lane curb on west-bound 59. I drove to the next intersection, turned around and drove back. I parked on the shoulder, grabbed my gloves and towel, and waited in the pouring rain to dash across two lanes of traffic to grab – a dirty gray t-shirt, filthy from being run over, probably thrown by momentum of a vehicle against the curb in a vaguely hawk-like shape. I did rescue it so no one else would mistake it for an animal. I didn’t know if that is what the person saw or if they had actually seen a real animal hit, so I drove back and forth that section of road four times before heading back to WINC to dry out. Hopefully our hawk friend wasn’t injured and flew off to find someplace dry as well.

Volunteers at last year's basic rescue training class.


During last year's basic rescue training class volunteers wrangle our educational muscovy duck for practice.

-Guest Blogger LR

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fell 'em in Fall!

Perhaps it's the unseasonably warm late September weather or the fact that WINC successfullly hosted another WILD Golf outing on Tuesday, but this week has been unexpectedly busy for many of us causing this blog post to be late; although very timely. Hope you enjoy!

After a long, cold winter, Wisconsin natives are antsy to get outdoors once spring rolls around; both the furred, feathered and human varieties! Often, homeowners want to start spring clean-up activities in the yard. This sometimes includes cutting down unwanted or dead trees. However, spring is the worst time of the year to cut or remove trees, at least for your wild neighbors. Great Horned Owls start nesting as early as January, often in old hawk or crow nests built in numerous types of trees. As the spring progresses, tree squirrels, raccoons, and many bird species build their nests and raise their young in trees. Cutting down trees in the spring can result in any number of negative outcomes for the animals that call those trees home. Nests can be destroyed, and animals can be displaced, injured, or even killed in the process.

Dead trees (called snags) provide important habitat for many species of wildlife. Woodpeckers often use snags as a source of their insect diet. They also drill holes (cavities) in live and dead trees which they use for nesting. The cavities that they create are important nest sites for a number of other cavity-nesting species that don’t have the ability to make holes in trees; these include chickadees, bluebirds, and kestrels. Snags also provide den sites (both nesting and wintering) for many mammal species. Squirrels, raccoons, and even bears use snags for dens.


If a dead tree is not posing a threat to your home or other buildings, consider leaving it, or only cutting off the most dangerous branches. If you DO need to cut down a dead or unwanted tree, do it in the fall - right now - well after the nesting season is done and before most mammals begin using trees for winter dens. So remember, if you can’t leave it, don’t fell it ‘til fall! You can contact the Center with any questions you may have regarding wildlife in your yard.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A free bird again

It’s always wonderful to see a happy ending to a story, especially when you get to be there for both the beginning and the end! Working as a phone counselor, admissions receptionist and visitor greeter, as well as development and marketing coordinator for the Wildlife In Need Center, I don’t often get to make a connection with any one patient that comes through our doors. Well, I did try to raise those orphaned white-footed mice, but we’ll save that story for another time.

I received a call early on a Thursday morning near the end of August from a business owner. He had rescued a Great Horned owl found with its leg caught on a piece of equipment. Upon arrival it seemed like the bird was in terrible shape, but a thorough examination revealed that, although dehydrated from the struggle, his injuries appeared to be primarily external.

We kept him calm for several days, treating the wounds and consulting with our volunteer veterinarians. It was confirmed that he had no fracture so it would just be a matter of time before he was healed and ready to go back home!

After 2 weeks of therapy and treatment his leg was looking much better and he was prepared to return home. The area where he had been found was a short way south of where I live so I was asked if I’d be willing to assist. So, after shutting down the office for the evening I watched as he was packed into a kennel cab for the ride. I drove home quietly and when I got there left him to rest quietly in the garage while we waited for the sun to go down.

After dinner my husband and I got in the car and headed out. We found the location easily and, since it was beginning to get dark, we pulled in with our headlights shining on the area we wanted to release him. Once we were set up I stood behind the kennel and opened the door. He hesitated for a moment as Andy was set-up to photograph the event and he could see him out of the corner of the doorway. Once he inched back a couple of inches however, the owl regained his bravery and came storming out!

The one shot of the event that turned out was this moment; the rest of his adventure was a graceful arch up and out, heading to the west and into a thicket of trees. One aspect of assisting on releases is that you get to talk to people. I talk to a lot of people during the day with questions regarding their wild neighbors and the center, but when you speak to someone during a special event like this it’s different. Before we could hop back in our cars to bid our owl friend a final adieu a vehicle stopped to find out if we needed any help. Once we explained what we were doing the passerby gladly took some information about the Center and said she was definitely going to contact us about volunteering. IF she joins us, hopefully we’ll be able to have even more happy endings.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Can Children Do to Help?


We often get this question from parents whose children are budding veterinarians, environmentalists and Dr. Doolittles. One way that children can help directly is by participating in our Baby Bird Feeding Junior Volunteer program. This program requires that children be at least 14 years of age or 12 and 13 with a parent or guardian. The wonderful thing is that many children want to start helping at much younger ages that this! While they can’t volunteer to do animal care at the Center, they can help the wildlife in other ways. We are currently in the process of designing a hub on our helpingwildlife.org site made just to recognize these enterprising young individuals. We hope that their caring and outlook on the world will inspire others to join us in helping our wild neighbors. If you have any suggestions for what would be helpful to include in this section please let us know. Whether it’s an idea we include right away or one we add down the road, we’d like to hear it!
So what if you are a kid who cares and want some suggestions on how to help now; or perhaps you already participated in helping us raise so many baby birds over the summer but you’d still like to help out this fall; what if you are looking for ways to help right now?

Here are some ideas:
  • Pick greens. Dandelions, clovers, plantain, and wide-blade grasses are important foods for cottontails and woodchucks. Just pick them into a plastic shopping bag and tie shut. Refrigerate until you can them to the Center. We can’t get enough dandelion greens for our hundreds of juvenile cottontails. It is their favorite food and helps cure diarrhea.

  • Gather native seeds, nuts or berries the next time you go with your family on a hike. These are foods many of our patients are used to, making them feel safer and eat better. Be sure you identify the plant you are picking from before doing so, to avoid anything that may be poisonous! Stay off of private property as well. And most importantly, please remember to leave some for the wild neighbors who live in those areas as well!

  • Grow food materials, even though it’s getting chilly you could still plant some greens or plan to plant sunflowers, greens or veggies next spring for our wild patients.

  • The next time it rains, head out of doors and gather up some of the night crawlers and earthworms from the sidewalk. Birds of all kinds love to eat them including our patients! If you prefer not to gather living animals, put them back in the yard. They will help the soil and the local birds may catch them on their own later.

  • If your family trims any trees such as elm, oak, willow and apple or thin raspberry and blackberry thickets, ask them if you can gather the branches. Squirrels and cottontails eat the leaves and bark and the branches are good for chewing exercise.

Be sure to check our website whenever you need information about your wild neighbors or the Wildlife In Need Center. And, although we may not be able to incorporate them all, if you have suggestions on how to make our site better we will always listen. Finally, for those “big kid” volunteers, be sure to check out our volunteer pages. They are still under construction, but I’m sure you’ll find more helpful information than you remember!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Caller Says #2, Turtles


Last June someone called to report that a turtle laid eggs in their yard. They have a 2 year old daughter who plays in the yard and wondered what they should do.

Initially, the turtle was left alone; it wasn’t until it had been there for over an hour that they realized what it was doing and contacted the Center for answers.

Once the turtle lays her eggs and buries them, she leaves and does not come back to the nest. Depending on the species and soil temperatures, the babies should hatch in 60-90 days. Once the babies hatch they leave to head to the nearest water. People often ask, but we don’t recommend moving the eggs. Once laid, the embryo soon attaches to the egg and can be killed by disturbing the egg, unlike birds that often turn their eggs during incubation. Leaving mom be to lay her eggs and leave is the best policy.

Calls about turtles can start as early as April or May, and can continue through to August and even into September as the babies begin hatching. Once hatched, they will come to the surface and instinctively make their way to water; often en mass. We will get a great many calls during the hatching period from individuals wondering what to do when faced with this amazing site. Unfortunately we receive a number of calls after this period, and throughout the year, from individuals who took one or more of these babies in thinking they needed assistance. Once these animals begin to get sick or go dormant from poor nutrition we have a lot of work to do to get them back to health. Even with the proper diet they need to be evaluated by a professional to ensure they are healthy as well as psychologically able to survive in the wild before being re-released.

If you see the babies hatching, resist the temptation to take them in. If you can gather them up and immediately take them to the nearest body of water, this gives them a big head start.

Turtles populations all over the country are diminishing, even the more common species. Just hatched turtles like to ones we’re talking about today are always going to face huge obstacles to survival, but turtles are very slow to mature. Turtles that make it to the age of reproduction however, can reproduce for many years which is why they have been able to survive. Human over the past 50 years have increased the death of adult turtles in recent years which means that each year there are fewer and fewer of them reproducing. For more information about turtles in Wisconsin visit: http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/biodiversity/index.asp?mode=detail&Grp=49

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Fox and the Hedgehog


Okay, I fooled you, there are no hedgehogs in this post, but I’ve heard it’s a cute story. The real story starts with a phone call about a fox this morning and the picture that goes best with it is a rather unappealing one; you will see it below.
The caller lived in Southeastern Wisconsin, but had been at their lake home for the weekend. While there, they noticed a fox that appeared a bit rough and thin. Their neighbor remarked that it had been seen coming and going from the culvert under their driveway for a week or more.

The reality is that foxes have adapted well to urban life all across the country; whether it is City urban or Lake Home urban; and even in other countries. Since fall is inching its way closer the majority of fox kits have started out on their own and some of them struggle at first. What is also common in foxes in this area is mange.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, “mange is a skin disease of mammals caused by a tissue-burrowing arthropod.” They go on to describe Sarcoptic mange, which is the kind commonly seen in foxes in Wisconsin, as being “characterized by thinning and loss of hair, thickening and wrinkling of the skin, and scab and crust formation.” Patients we’ve admitted obviously have thinning hair, but they will also commonly have sores that are scabbed over and smell terrible over much of their body. Mange is treatable, and we do so with a dual treatment both internally and externally. The unfortunate part of the disease is that the animals eventually become weak from an inability to hunt from the distraction and fighting the ongoing infection from the wounds on their bodies. This is usually the time that they are finally contained and brought to us for care and treatment. [This is evident in the photo above. To read about the happy ending this pitiful creature saw you’ll have to watch for a future post]

But what about his children? Foxes, and most wild animals for that matter, don’t want to have anything to do with humans or our pets. Aside from playful fox kits, they usually don’t want to expend any more energy than is necessary to procure their next meal. Since they are omnivorous, this could range from some berries under a mulberry tree to a mouse or an occasional cottontail, but rarely anything larger. Unless we interfere with their natural behaviors by trying to habituate them the average person will never have a bad experience with an animal like this. It is our responsibility as adults to teach children about wildlife and the world that surrounds us. This means encouraging respect, not fear, of our wild neighbors. It also means understanding that if we show them the respect they deserve, they will do the same in exchange. With development drawing more wildlife into urban areas it will benefit all of us if we learn this lesson.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Through an Intern’s Eyes

Working at the Wildlife in Need Center (WINC) as a marketing intern for the past three months has been a great ride, whether it was preparing for a fundraiser, navigating my way through a donor database, or admitting cute little orphaned or injured critters into the center. Working with dedicated WINC employees, learning the tricks of the trade in marketing within a nonprofit organization, and giving snacks to Waldo the Woodchuck in between my daily tasks has made this internship an informative and memorable experience.


I came into this internship having a love for but little knowledge of Wisconsin wildlife. Having grown up in a rural area, I came to know and have a soft spot for the little animals that found their way into my front yard and my mom’s vegetable garden, even though their crimes were not always warmly welcomed! However, I now feel that I have gained more insight into how I can live in harmony with wildlife. Reading the book Wild Neighbors by the Humane Society of the United States and learning from my supervisors at WINC have taught me how I can prevent wildlife from becoming nuisances around my home. Admitting patients in WINC’s front office allowed me opportunities to hold and identify wildlife.

But as many of you know, school is just around the bend. My free time to bird-watch and observe fascinating Wisconsin wildlife will be extremely limited. The months will get busier, and my head will increasingly feel heavier with school assignments and other activities. I am going to make the assumption that many of you will also have busier schedules upon the arrival of fall. Who has the time or means to donate to wildlife when there is no room on our calendars and never-ending bills to pay?

However, for those of us who wish to remember the animals in the midst of our busy schedules, we can still pitch in and help! For example...

  1. Whether it is shopping at the grocery store, filling up gas in our cars, or renewing our magazine subscriptions, there are many ways in which we can provide for wildlife during our everyday routines. Please visit WINC’s website at www.helpingwildlife.org/newsevents/fundraisers.htm to read more about these easy and worthwhile opportunities.
  2. We can donate our extra veggies, pet foods, and/or other products that could benefit injured wildlife. View WINC’s wish list online at www.helpingwildlife.org/getinvolved/wishlist.htm.
  3. We should take precautions around our homes to ensure the safety of our families and nearby wildlife. We can find out what we can do to prevent any wildlife-related disasters from occurring by visiting the helpful links at www.helpingwildlife.org/wldlemergency/hoursloc.htm.
  4. If we do see animals that appear to be injured or in trouble, making a simple phone call to WINC or visiting its website to learn about the proper steps we should take could save lives!
  5. WINC is always in need of volunteers and interns throughout the year! Whether it is caring for the animals in person, working in the front office and reaching out the community, or educating the public on our wild neighbors, WINC always needs our help! View these awesome volunteer and internship opportunities at www.helpingwildlife.org/getinvolved/volunteer.htm.

I will miss my summer days with Waldo the Woodchuck, Daphne the Duck, and all of the other educational animals and patients at the Wildlife in Need Center. However, even though I will not be able to see them every day, I will always remember them and try my best to remain a part of WINC, whether it is contributing donations that fit inside my budget or volunteering my time at the center next summer. Where there is a will, there is a way!

I was only an intern at WINC this past summer, but in the end, I couldn’t help but feel like I became a part of a…family. And shouldn’t family members always support each other?


...Daphne the Duck says, "YES!"



Guest Blogger J.M.


NOTE: Do you have any suggestions for WINC’s upcoming blog posts? If so, please post them in your comment, and WINC may use them in the near future!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Caller Says: #1, All A-Flutter

A small bird was in the backyard, not flying.

First question is always is this a small adult bird or baby bird?

Second question is what was the bird doing before you discovered it and what has it been doing since?

In the spring, summer and early fall you can occasionally find nestling babies that should be in the nest but that have fallen out due to the weather or other forces. These babies will have some naked pink spots yet. Those can be replaced in their nest should be, but only when warmed under a lamp or in your hand before doing so. In cases where the nest has been destroyed or is too high to reach the baby can be replaced in a substitute nest. A substitute nest can be made of a wicker basket, hanging plant basket or any plastic container with drainage holes in it. If using plastic be sure to line it with dried grasses, sticks or leaves so that it isn’t slippery. Hang a substitute nest at least 5-6 feet off the ground so it is out of easy reach of neighborhood pets and kids and within hearing distance of the original nest. Don’t feed the baby; it should be hungry and peep because of it – that noise alerts the parents to where it is and they will feed it as well as the siblings back in the original nest.

Fledglings are babies that are old enough to leave the nest. They spend a couple of days hopping around the ground and making buzz flights an inch or two above the ground a foot or two at a time. That is how they learn to fly and build up their strength; activities they can’t do in a nest. Their parents continue to feed them on the ground but don’t stay with the baby at all times. Fledglings are mostly feathered, with wing feathers and a start of tail feathers, but may still have a bit of baby fluff. Babies at this stage should be left alone and monitored from a distance.

In this case, the bird in question was an adult who had flown into the window. Most of the time window strikes cause a bird to be temporarily stunned. We suggest putting them in a covered box, or in a pinch a paper bag with a couple of air holes, and letting them rest someplace quiet for an hour. This protects them from predators and the quiet darkness also helps to reduce their shock. After an hour, take the box outside and open it. If the bird can fly out, fine. If not, it is more seriously injured and should come to a rehabilitator for evaluation. This bird was destined to have a better day and flew away after a short rest.

Thanks for caring!

PS. Don't forget that Tazino's Pizza and Salad Bistro in Menomonee Falls is hosting a 10% event for the Wildlife In Need Center this evening! Download a flyer [here] and 10% of your order will be donated to help us care for our wild neighbors! Tell all your friends and we'll see you there!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What is that?!?

Have you ever seen a blossom of slime mold? A lot of people have not and it has given cause for some of them to contact us over the years. If you recall, a few weeks ago I posted a blog about the descriptions of sound that we get on occasion. Another one of the things that we often get descriptions over the phone is feces. The best of these stories to date was a gentleman who had called to report finding large feces, “larger than a large dog,” in the flowerbed outside his home. After some discussion with the individual in the office it seemed unlikely it was any wild animal we commonly see in this part of the state. It is possible in cases like these that a large dog may be the culprit especially if a neighbor had out-of-town company or a new dog that they were letting out at night. In this instance he had a second thought revolving around a feud that had been steaming between him and his neighbor. It was recommended that if he really suspected that this was the result of a human, especially a neighbor, that he contact local law enforcement and get them involved. Yuck.

If you talk to phone counseling veterans you will hear countless stories of feces descriptions including ones filled with seeds or found in odd places. And just a side note that even though we do see and deal with a lot of the sort in a Center such as ours, we really aren’t interested in handling it to confirm that someone indeed has a raccoon passing through their yard on occasion.

Back to slime mold. Another classic call was from a woman who was convinced that something or someone was vomiting in her front flowerbed every night. The likelihood that this was the case was slim, especially after several days had resulted in the same outcome. WINC phone counselor Lisa however, knew exactly what the culprit might be; slime mold. I have been told that this type of mold looks like “colorful vomit” and commonly appears in wood mulch during and after times of heavy rainfall. According to my research this is a “fungus-like” organism but not actually of the fungi family. It gets its name from the early stages of its development when it often appears very “gelatinous.” It states that because it feeds on microorganisms that live in dead plant material, it is common to find them on the ground, especially on lawns and in forests.

Many people don’t know why they suddenly see piles of very small feces below their shutters in the summer, why they find deposits in the same area again and again, or what type of animal has been visiting the back deck at night, but if you have questions give us a call; everyone else does!


Thanks again and clean up after yourself!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What’s that Bird?

“My granddaughter came over to visit and she has found a baby bird in the backyard,” says the caller on the other line. Then she says “I think it’s a baby hawk.” Sure, well, the first questions we ask are the same regardless of the type of bird: Are there obvious injuries; does it have feathers or is it still fuzzy; do you know where the nest is; have you seen the parents; how long has it been there… This bird wasn’t too far from us so we recommended bringing it to us so we could evaluate it, especially if it was a young raptor that may need to be re-nested by a trained volunteer.


The granddaughter was a bit older than we had envisioned and she was able to pick the bird up in a shirt; bringing him into the Center in a canvas shopping bag. The most surprising thing about this story however, is that it actually was a juvenile Cooper’s hawk!


Yes, that is what she said it was, but it’s a common occurrence to receive calls about “baby hawks” that turn into infant Mourning Doves when they arrive at the Center. We also get a lot of American Robins - while it’s true we do actually admit numerous robins, many other small birds ranging from European Starlings to Song Sparrows to House Finches come in claiming to be a member of the proud red-breasts as well. We never make people feel bad for not knowing the difference; the truth is there are always patients coming in that even we don’t know at first glance, especially baby birds! By working as a team and with a network; talking to other staff and volunteers, attending conferences, reading journals, posting blogs, and partnering with other rehabilitators however, we find the answers we don’t know and also try our best to share that information. And that’s a good thing because for many of the people we do talk to, there aren’t a lot of other resources for them to get the answers they’re looking for. We love to hear from people that know about and care about our wild neighbors as much as we do, but we love to help people learn about our wild neighbors just as much.


It isn’t something we’re often known for, but we are more than “just an animal charity.” An article in our recent newsletter examined the ways in which we help the people in our communities as well. While we are here for the animals (whatever they may turn out to be) it is the volunteers, members, staff, supporters and community who have always been the heart of the Wildlife In Need Center.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do you know what to do when...

  • you find a cottontail nest in your yard?
  • your cat brings you an injured bird?
  • you see an owl get hit by a passing car?
  • you find a small raccoon near the side of the road?
These are some of the more common situations our wild neighbors find themselves in every day and they need your help! By preventing the situations that may lead to an animal becoming one of our patients, we save just as many lives over the phone as we do in our clinic.

Did you know that the Wildlife In Need Center has recently received a generous grant to fund and enhance our unique internship programs? The generous donation given by the James E. Dutton Foundation has allowed the Center to make more positions available in animal care this summer. Those of you who’ve been around WINC throughout the years know how important animal care interns are during our busy summer months. Their help allows us to increase the quality of care we can provide our patients. The funding will also allow us to offer animal care positions during our off-season as well which will help launch a whole new aspect of research and allow for the best care of all of our future patients.

As our Center grows and our need to educate the communities we serve grows with it, we also plan to expand our internship programs accordingly. Our new partnership with UW-Waukesha means that we are not only enhancing the experiences and learning opportunities provided for the valuable team members to our animal care staff and volunteers, we are also adding new team member positions including marketing and community outreach as well as an education intern.

Most importantly, we are looking for someone to help us launch our environmental education internship program. If you or someone you know is interested in:
  • Learning how to assist the public with wildlife questions
  • Designing educational brochures for children’s programs
  • Creating educational displays for the new educational wing
  • Helping to present educational programs to the public
  • Create and publish educational videos
  • and more...

Learning to live peacefully with wildlife as well as knowing when a wild animal may need our help are just some of the lessons you could share if you were an education intern at the Wildlife In Need Center. Interns should have experience with various computer programs, working with people and reliable transportation. For a complete description of the qualifications for becoming an intern visit our website. If you want to help inspire people both young and old about the wonderful world around us then we want to hear from you!

To apply send a cover letter describing your interest and previous experience as well as a current resume to sacummings@helpingwildlife.org

For more information about what it’s like to be a WINC intern read this weeks Lake Country Reporter or visit our website. And thank you for caring about the animals.