Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Sad (set of) Tail(s)

Today we received a phone call from a very nice girl. Her roommate however, was a little bit misguided leading to a very sad situation.

The story is one we hear at least several times each year. This individual was having a “problem” with a raccoon. Unfortunately, before seeking advice that would have possibly mitigated the situation peacefully, or at least humanely, he took matters into his own hands and decided the best solution was to end the life of this animal. Unfortunately, there are plenty of officials and companies out there that may tell individuals in these situations that the only solution is to remove the “offending” animal one way or another. Anyone who’s worked with the Wildlife In Need Center hopefully knows different – that there are many other ways to solve conflicts between humans and our wild neighbors.

Too little too late, this caring girl turned to WINC for advice only after it was discovered that the raccoon whose life had been lost had been a mother to several small, helpless, now orphaned, baby raccoons.

Baby raccoons are orphaned everyday for various reasons, when they are orphaned needlessly by uncaring individuals it takes up space and resources for those who legitimately need the care of rehabilitators

This is the time of year where many females of many species have given birth or will become mothers soon. These animals, contrary to popular belief, aren’t extra aggressive or any more likely to cause “trouble.” What these dedicated parents are looking for is a safe place to raise their young and enough food to keep themselves and their young alive and strong. If the way that we live our lives wasn’t removing more and more of the natural areas and sources for these needs and replacing them with our own versions, there would be far fewer “conflicts.”

Cute and cuddly, these little guys require many months of intense care to reach maturity and should never be raised by inexperienced individuals.

Before you, a friend, or a neighbor do something that is going to impact the lives of helpless babies consider the following and then contact the Wildlife In Need Center or your nearest wildlife rehabilitator for further suggestions.
  • If you can pinpoint a food source that might be attracting animals, eliminate it, or at least move it or limit their access to it. The further away a parent has to go for food the more likely they are to move their nest closer to that food source.
  • If a mother has taken up residence in your attic, garage, or any other place where it is absolutely not possible to allow them to stay use some standard humane hazing techniques from our website and look at ways to exclude them (and anyone else) from returning once they move on to a safer home.
  • Especially during this time of year, always assume that an animal could be a female and that she could have young somewhere. If you have problems with animals getting unwanted access never just seal off the entry point and assume that there won’t be babies left behind. If so, the mother might just break right through your fix making things worse than they were to begin with. Look at humane hazing techniques to convince mom to move elsewhere, or just let her finish rearing her young and then repair the area. 
  • Never purposely get in between a mother and her young, and certainly never corner an adult animal during any time of the year.
After months (yes months!) of care these "little bandits" become bigger, stronger and much more difficult to handle. This is the time they are ready to be released into new territories to survive the way they were born to survive - free.

Conflicts can be resolved peacefully, always contact a rehabilitator before taking drastic measures. Thank you for caring.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Fox and the Hare

While we still stand the risk of freezing rain and snow, it is indeed spring. As a result our patient numbers are slowly climbing from the 20 or less a month we admit in the winter, now to one or even several a day! The phones too, are getting busier and, as usual this time of year, a number of the calls we get are regarding the same animals, questions and/or situations. Last week we got a number of calls about raccoons getting into mischief. We attributed that to increased numbers of them looking for nesting sites for the season. This week it seems that all of the phone calls are about cottontail rabbit nests or red fox dens.
Cottontail rabbits have a relatively short gestation period and they also reproduce several times from spring through fall. Thankfully for the parents, they also have a very short rearing period as well; most infant cottontails are old enough to be weaned, eating solid food, and on their own by about 4 to 6 weeks of age.

If you find a nest of baby cottontails in your yard, the best thing to do is to leave them be and enjoy their brief time of growth for the next couple of weeks because they will soon be old enough to venture out of the nest and will be gone. If the nest has already been or is in danger of being disturbed this is not a hopeless situation. Is your dog trying to get into the nest when you let her out during the day? Then try putting a milk crate, laundry basket or “breathable” container over the area during the day. Mom only comes by the nest to feed the babies at dusk and again at dawn so you can take the cover in with you at night and bring it back out first thing in the morning. Some people have also had good luck putting up a little garden fence or other type of barricade that the mother rabbit can fit through or under to get to the nest, but that their pets cannot get into. In any situation where a baby cottontail is injured always contact a rehabilitator to get them the care they need as soon as possible.

This basket-full of baby bunnies may be cute, but it is neither humane nor legal to try to keep them as pets. They need very specialized care if they are to stand a chance of surviving until they are big enough to be on their own.

Red foxes, are natural, native animals in this part of Wisconsin. They are also far enough along in their breeding season where many have young big enough to start venturing out of the den for the first time. Because they have such a persona about them, what most of the people we speak to don’t know is that they are very common animals in urban and suburban neighborhoods. These habitats have taken the place of many of the marshes, woods, and native grasslands that used to be home to these animals. As a result they have had to adapt in order to survive. In the case of the fox (among other animals including white tailed deer, raccoons, and squirrels) the less rural environments also provide a lot more resources which has made the transition much easier. Other than the rodents who are feasting underneath your bird feeder at night, the pears and apples falling from your neighbors tree, and the occasional sip out of someone’s fresh pond or nice clean pool, these animals would really rather not be in such close proximity to humans. This means that even if they are living underneath your neighbor’s shed, as long as they are given their space and you (as well as your pets) remain in yours any conflicts are unlikely.

If a fox is in your neighborhood and you are still concerned these are some of the things to keep in mind: If you have bird feeders, fallen fruit, pet food, food storage or any other potential food source in or around your yard, consider cleaning it up, changing it’s location away from the immediate area, or removing it altogether for a period of time. Less food means less reason for the foxes to venture into your yard. For those of us with pets, it is our responsibility to look out for them. Knowing that there is a fox in the neighborhood (because in many cases we don’t know) doesn’t increase their risk of being attacked. This is because statistics show that most attacks or injuries to domestic animals are more likely to occur through interaction with other domesticated animals versus a wild animal. Also, making noise whenever you go out, using a squirt gun filled with water, or putting flags or streamers in the yard periodically can all help to make your territory seem odd and scary therefore a place that no mother would want her young to visit.

Foxes, Coyotes and other predators often get a bad rap. These innocent little pups want nothing more than a nice mouse maybe with a fruit or vegetable on the side, a safe place to sleep and some occasional sunshine to bask in just like your family cat.
  If you have further questions always contact your nearest rehabilitator first. Even if someone from a local pet supply store is willing to sell you something to feed that cute baby bunny, it doesn't mean that you should. And even though your neighbor's father who grew up on a farm in Illinois tells you that every fox he saw growing up was rabid, it doesn't mean that these ones are.

Hope that helps, until next time...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Have you ever seen a Duck in a POD?

On Monday March, 21st, we received our donated storage unit from PODS of Milwaukee!

It is official; we can start packing for the big move. The first thing to pack…Daphne the Muscovy duck of course! Daphne wanted to show off how excited she was to move that she decided to get in the POD first.

Following Daphne has been extra laundry and bulk medical supplies that we’re not expecting to use until after we move. Although the POD will be in the driveway for a couple months it’s a nice reminder that the move is actually happening and we are all very thrilled that the process has started.

Volunteers and staff will continue to sort and store as much as we can in the POD until it is full and ready to be moved to the new building. We would like to thank PODS of Milwaukee for donating the storage unit to us for this grand event!

PS- Don’t worry we just let Daphne play in the POD, she did not stay in the POD! She returned to the kitchen to continue to supervise the daily activities of the center!

Guest Blogger M.F.
With the move to our new facility taking center stage we are greatly looking forward to our Annual Banquet on Friday as well! The evening will feature a guest appearance by Dakota, our Great Horned Owl, auction items donated by over 100 local individuals and businesses, and - of course - a sneak preview of the new facility! You could even bid on a chance to attend a private guided tour of the Center once it's complete! The deadline has passed for early ticket sales, we still have just a couple of spots left. If you are interested please contact the Wildlife In Need Center at 262-968-5075 and we'll see if we can still get you in!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The "birds and the bees" and the buzzards

Sunday afternoon the intercom in the office beeped. Barb, a volunteer, had seen two Turkey Vultures in the yard past the parking lot and they appeared to be fighting. I’ve never seen Turkey Vultures at WINC although I have seen them soaring over the gravel pits north of here. Once I even saw about a dozen sitting in a small tree just east of Hwy C and Hwy 18. I did a double-take to see those big black birds in that 10 foot tall tree. It would have made a great Halloween card. My office window had a different angle of sight so I went to the other window to see what was going on.

I usually park my van directly in front of the office so we can watch our local Cooper’s Hawk hunt House Sparrows under it. (Another blog for another day) Between my van and a spruce tree I saw the Turkey Vultures pacing back and forth. They would walk past each other, going out of my view and then back into view. Although unusual behavior, they did not seem to be acting aggressive towards each other. One had its feathers all fluffed out and its wings held out in a loose curve around its body. It strutted rather bow-legged as it walked. Hmmm. I’ve seen that posture before with the domestic ducks and geese I used to keep as pets. Have you ever seen a male tom turkey displaying- puffing up, holding his wings a little out, and kind of strutting and dancing for the hens? The vultures would disappear behind the tree from my view for a couple minutes, and then wander back into view.

In 2009 WINC rescued this Turkey Vulture that had gotten caught up in someone's dilapidated wire fence. Try to remember to replace, repair, or remove netting, fencing and string that could potentially entangle birds and other small animals whenever possible, especially overnight when they are less likely to be in use.
I beeped back to the hospital. I asked Barb what she had seen to make her think they were fighting. She described the sight and added that, “One of them was even standing on the other.” My guess was right. They weren’t fighting, they were mating. I then explained the “birds and the bees” of large birds. In most species of birds, the male mounts (stands) on the female back. She arches her tail up as far over her back as she can. The male bends his tail under the female so their privates can meet. It takes maybe a minute or two and done. Separate, dance and strut. Repeat. Multiple times. I had the R rated view but Barb had the full XXX version from the kitchen window. They were out front about 30 minutes and then flew off to the southwest.

You just never know what you will see around here!

Guest Blogger L.R.

Interested in becoming a volunteer and being a part of interesting events like this one? Visit our website to find out more.

Friday, April 1, 2011

2010 Fun with Numbers!

When was the last time you visited We've posted our patient numbers from 2010 and have had a lot of fun comparing numbers to previous years. Visit to join in our fun!

This is a short post for those of you who are used to our information-filled usuals, but our Annual Banquet is 2 weeks from today! If you aren't already planning to join us visit where you can purchase your tickets online!

Thanks for caring!