Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Fowl

Much like our feathered friend, Daphne, water and shore birds who are unable to migrate due to injury - or being domestic! - are going to become more obviously in need as the weather cools and the healthy animals begin to head south.
 Whether you like them or not, Geese and ducks 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 due to injuries they may be suffering from.

Waterfowl poses a number of diffculties that we don't face with other types of animals. The saying goes around WINC, "they don't call them wild goose chases for nothing." Of course each situation is different, but many have the same obstacles to overcome:
  • The bird spends most of its time on water where it is difficult or impossible for a human (or any other predator) to catch him.
  • The bird 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 bird can still fly even though they have a debilitating leg or foot injury. They will often stay in the water which supports their weight, only coming up on land for brief periods.
The reason many of the calls we receive about waterfowl this time of year are difficult is that injuries sustained a few weeks (in some cases even a few months) ago are oftentimes unrepairable. 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 coax 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 either. Even if we could amputate, the animal's overall health is often not good enough to ensure their survival through the process or follow-up care; and permanent placement is difficult to find if the injury area will require ongoing medical attention or care.

If you see a goose, duck or other type of water or shore bird 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 (not a vehicle) 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 birds 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.

With many waterfowl species coming into season for licensed hunting please be careful when attempting to assist a bird in need. When in any area where hunting could potentially occur, always be on alert and be sure to wear bright clothing so that any potential hunters in the vicinity can see you too. If you have any questions about an animal you think needs help always contact your local rehabilitator for advice and guidance.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interested in helping wildlife? We NEED you!

Our wild neighbors need your help! Interns at the Wildlife In Need Center have helped care for thousands of animals over the years through hours of cleaning, feeding and care. But we also offer internships for those looking for experience in Community Outreach as well. The Community Outreach Interns have the opportunity to save just as many lives over as the Animal Care Interns do in our clinic; by providing education to thousands of children and area residents with the help of our animal ambassadors, by spreading awareness of the Center and our services to more people throughout the region, and by talking directly with the public in an effort to prevent the situations that may lead to an animal becoming one of our patients.

Last year the Wildlife In Need Center received a generous donation from the James E. Dutton Foundation. As our Center grows and our need to educate the communities we serve grows with it we have also begun to expand our internship programs accordingly. Our new partnership with UW-Waukesha means that we are enhancing the experiences and learning opportunities even more as we look towards the future.

We are looking for someone to help us in our relatively new Environmental Education and Communications Internship (EC) program. If you or someone you know might be interested in:
  • Learning how to assist the public with wild neighbor questions
  • Designing educational brochures for children’s programs
  • Creating educational displays and brochures for educating the public
  • Helping to present educational programs to the public
  • Creating and editing 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 with others if you were an education intern at the Wildlife In Need Center.

We are also looking for someone to help us in the Marketing and Community Outreach Internship (MC) program. If you or someone you know might be interested in:

  • Learning how to coordinate a membership program and a variety of donor events
  • Creating and publishing images, videos, and other information online
  • Helping to interact with supporters through social media
  • Creating educational displays and brochures for educating the public
  • Learning how to assist the public with wild neighbor questions
  • and more...
If you want to help inspire and educate people both young and old about the wonder of the world around us then we want to hear from you! If think you’re the right fit to help WINC with Community Education and Outreach than we need to hear from you!

To apply send a cover letter describing your interest and previous experience as well as a current resume to For more information about WINC’s intern program visit our internship page.

Want to help but can't commit to a formal internship? Consider becoming a volunteer. We have orientations scheduled monthly and once you've completed training you can come in just once or twice a week! Visit our volunteer page for more information.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where'd you get that turtle?

Today we received a phone call from a gentleman who had a turtle question. Getting turtle questions is quite common during certain times of the year here at WINC because there isn’t as much education reaching the public about them as there is about animals like birds or raccoons. The difference was that the turtles he had questions about had come from Florida, not Wisconsin!

Although the Wildlife In Need Center answers nearly 10,000 phone calls each year and has admitted over 36,000 wildlife patients representing over 140 species that are native to Wisconsin, we often get calls like these as well because very few other agencies and nonprofits in the area are equipped to answer these types of questions. Unfortunately,

WINC cannot provide any care for or advice on care for domestic animals.

...even if the animal in question is considered “exotic” and may be difficult to find advice on through traditional resources. What we can and always try to do is help these individuals to seek out the resources that might actually be beneficial for their individual situation.

According to "The sale or distribution of turtles with a carapace length of less than 4 inches has been banned in the US since 1975 (Title 21 CFR 1240.62)." The sale of these quarter-sized turtles to the caller 2 year ago should not have been allowed under federal law. goes on to explain that "The ban was brought into effect under the Public Health Services Act by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address the problem of Salmonella infections in children." While reptiles of all kinds carry Salmonella, the Salmonella they carry that can actually infect humans is passed to the turtles from us to begin with. This is why we institute high levels of sanitation and security with all of our turtle patients here in the clinic.
 In the caller's case the turtles had been purchased at a store in Florida while he was away on business and had now outgrown the tank and time he was willing to invest in them. Although I just said we couldn’t provide advice on domestic animal care, we don't have to be a domestic animal shelter to promote EDUCATION when it comes to the decision to make an animal a part of your home. Pets are a responsibility that should not be taken lightly regardless of what species they may be. Consider the age they might live to, the size living quarters they might need during that time, and what amount of care and socialization they are going to require from everyone in your family among other things. If you have an exotic pet you need further resources on, talk to your local humane shelter, a trusted and reputable pet supply center, or visit our Resources page for links to helpful people in these situations. Both the caller and I were grateful that he’d called before releasing these turtles in a pond down the road from his house. I was able to direct him to contact one of several reptile specialty breeders in the area to see if they would be willing to help find suitable new homes for them instead.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Top 10 Reasons why you should attend the WAUK with WINC event on Saturday, September 24th

10. If you register in advance you’ll get a high-quality, long sleeved event shirt!

9. It is a healthy way to spend time with the kids (even if they’re not your own)!

8. It is a great way to fight those beginning of the school year doldrums!

7. It is a good excuse to get some exercise!

6. You can have someone take your picture by the Anagama Wood Kiln!

5. It will be the perfect time of year to enjoy the fall scenery on the Glacial Drumlin Trail!

4. It is an opportunity to visit the NEW Wildlife In Need Center!

3. It is a good opportunity to hike and learn about the Field Station!

2. It is a fun way to support 2 great causes!

1. It will be a hiking HOOTING good time!

Find out more and register online here
Tell us why you'll be attending this fun walk/run event and you could be one of the lucky people chosen to have their picture taken with Wildlife In Need Center animal ambassador, Daphne the duck!