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

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