Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
For as many years as I have been participating in wildlife rehabilitation, we have been rescuing, when we could, rehabbing, when we could, and releasing, when we could, animals (mostly water fowl and turtles) who have unfortunately found themselves at the wrong end of fishing line, sinkers, hooks, and lures. It is all a big mistake, and it needs to be fixed. Every park with a lake, the canals, the rivers, and larger lakes are the scene. Fishing line that gets abandoned, breaks away with the fish, or just gets frustratingly tangled and ultimately tossed on the ground is the culprit. It is often incredibly hard to see and is easily forgotten when the fishing day ends.
And, then some innocent creature becomes trapped. It might start in the feet and legs and when the beak is used (not an opposable thumbs on a one of them) hooks take hold, barbs and all, in eyes, tongues, necks, chests. The struggle ensues; the fishing implements get tighter and tighter as the struggle gets more and more intense. Starvation or strangulation, lack of circulation or gross infection can and most often do occur. It takes a long time to die like this, and many people witness it.
Our phone rings with voices of outrage. Our rescue volunteer is dispatched and the rest of the depressing story follows. The horrid frustration of trying to catch an animal who can fly, run, or swim makes it very, very hard to help an animal who doesn’t know your motives and is on the downward slide to death. How depressing is this scenario?
John Glitsos, among other things a constant receiver of these rescue calls, was sent out on one such call last week that didn’t end all that well and left him perplexed as why this continues to be such a hideous problem. So, problem solver that he is, he has come up with a new program that we are launching this week. The gist of it is this. We have formed a Meetup group called “Cleanup to Save Wildlife” and our first event is Saturday, March 7th at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale at 10:30 in the morning. For all interested parties, you will be able to stroll around a lovely park with like-minded people cleaning up all of the fishing line and accompanying paraphernalia that destroys the life of many innocent animals.
On a regular basis we are hoping to do Meetups in all of the local area parks with lakes to scour for offending items. We will surely be at a park in your area at some time soon. This is a perfect event for school classes, home schoolers, scout troops, retirement communities and any other do gooders who want to ease the way for wildlife, take a nice walk with friends and families and leave with a smile on your face because you helped a desperate cause.
Please follow the directions below to sign up for an event:
You can go directly to our “Cleanup to Save Wildlife” page at this web address:
Click the green “Join Us!” button on the top right of the page. If you are not a member of Meetup.com, you will be prompted to join. It is free. Then you can join our particular group and other Meetups that might interest you. Once you have joined our Meetup group you will be able to attend any posted event, or create your own events that you want to sponsor! All of this is totally free.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total is now at 275.
Birds, bats, and small critters are coming and going, completing the cycle of rehabilitation and release. Some don’t make it, and some will have to stay in our care a little longer, but the process works in the long run. One of the California condors has improved enough to be moved into a flight enclosure and is next in line to be released, and two young Cooper’s hawks made the leap to freedom near the facility last week. The raccoons are now free and most of the ducks and geese have been released, and we’re still taking care of the little fox squirrel. Let’s have a look at the week…
A nice person brought in an injured Mexican free-tailed bat last week. Somehow the little mammal had suffered a fractured humerus. The good news is no one had touched the bat without gloves so no other agencies had to get involved and he didn’t have to be checked for rabies. REMEMBER: if you find a bat that needs our care, don’t touch it! Call the Liberty Wildlife Hotline for advice and they will dispatch a rescue volunteer trained to handle the situation.
A couple of new cormorants came in, including this one that was found walking along the road. He was checked for fishing line, fishing hooks, etc., and other injuries prior to being placed in the outside waterfowl enclosure. These birds cannot take off from the ground very well, requiring a long stretch of water as a runway – especially if they are young and inexperienced.
We have been treating a number of injured Cooper’s hawks lately (two of which got released – see below!) We’ve often said how accipiters are likely to collide with objects as they fly in hot pursuit of their prey – almost always another bird. The lucky(?) ones arrive at Liberty for expert medical care until they heal sufficiently to be returned to the wild.
I remember 27 years ago when I started with Liberty, we thought it was a totally cool thing to see a peregrine falcon. There were not nearly as many of them around back then and it was rare for one to come to us for care. Now we seem to get them quite often, which is also a good news/bad news situation. The bad news is more of them are getting injured, the good news is we are here to get them back into the air! One such patient recently came in with a fractured humerus which was initially wrapped by the Med services team and then confirmed by Dr. Sorum’s portable X-ray machine last Sunday. We’ll try to keep you posted on his progress.
The current cutest patient is still the baby fox squirrel. He is fed throughout the day by the Med Services team and will eventually be taken back to Texas when he is big enough. Anybody heading to the Lone Star State anytime soon?
Before they were released, the raccoons noticed a new inhabitant next door as a black-crowned night heron was placed into one of the water fowl pens adjacent to the mammal enclosure. Curiosity ensued…
Two more Cooper’s hawks were released last week after successful rehabilitation at Liberty. Both of the avian hunters flew well and will soon be terrorizing the sparrows and pigeons (maybe the love birds?) in the area. This is how nature works, and how it should always work. Predators and prey are two sides of the same coin, with predators keeping the prey species healthy and in balance, and the prey ultimately determining the number of predators as their own populations rise and fall.
Finally, California condor #455, the female that has been in treatment for lead poisoning for the past few months, is now in the flight enclosure. this is the last stop before the trip home to the Vermillion Cliffs and freedom to rejoin the Grand Canyon population of her species. We are all proud of the progress she has made and we will be happy to see her go back home. The male is still in treatment and will remain here for some time yet as he fights off the effects of the lead.