Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
I don’t want this to sound morose, but it is a topic that needs to be discussed. I got an email from a nice lady wondering if we euthanized animals. Fair question, I guess. And, the answer, of course, is yes. We don’t like having to do it, but for many reasons we have to.
There are provisions in our permits that require certain existing conditions in an animal must result in euthanizing the animal. I won’t go into detail, but in general we euthanize an animal that will have no quality of life. That means not only in the wild (that is clearly a no brainer!) but also an animal that would have no quality of life in captivity will be euthanized. This is a last resort to us and to many like us. We don’t make the decision lightly. No one likes to do it, especially in a group of dedicated, compassionate animal lovers. It is also this group who could not watch an animal suffer needlessly.
The good news is that many of the deemed non-releasable animals, those that could survive nicely in captivity but in no way could make a living in the wild, have options.
We have a great track record of placing non-releasable animals either in our own educational program or by sending them to other educational or breeding institutions across the United States. They can become ambassadors to their species and educate an eager public about the beauty and benefits of native wildlife….a successful effort at sustaining species through education and propagation.
Always our first choice is to release an animal back into the wild. If we can release it where it came from, that is the best alternative. If that isn’t an option we release animals in a safe, compatible habitat. They may have to find an empty territory on their own, but that is the way of the wild. Our release rate is right up there with and above the national average for other facilities.
When you deal with over 5000 animals (as many as 140 different species) a year like we do, it isn’t hard to imagine the activities surrounding the care and ultimate disposition of each one of the animals. When a caring person brings an animal in to us, they are often disappointed to know that we can’t call them to report on the progress of that particular animal. It just isn’t possible. We get in as many as 70-75 animals a day…that entails keeping the paperwork up to date on each one, triaging it, creating a protocol for it, preparing food, caring for it according to that protocol, following its progress, treating wounds, medicating, cleaning up for it…etc. That ends up being a full day for staff and volunteers who start again the next day and the next throughout the year.
Please trust that any animal you put in our trust will get the best care possible with our ultimate goal of release back into the wild. It is what we do and have done for over 34 years.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total has now reached 3607.
There is an ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times” and last week was a bit on the “interesting” side. We had the usual arrival of orphans, both passerines and raptors showing up. We took in another bird from down south (Sierra Vista) and yet another glue trap brought in a host of victims all by its evil self. The people who were doing our monthly newsletter Nature News are no longer providing the service so we’re taking it in-house and that has been a time-consuming preoccupation for some of us. All-in-all, a normal week as the thermometer heads up with a vengeance. Work on the site of the new facility is nearing it’s launch, and I’ll try to keep you updated on that front, possibly with a “virtual groundbreaking” when it occurs. In the meantime, lets take a look at the first truly hot week this summer as the Summer Solstice approaches…
As we approach the middle of the summer season, the dedicated (and largely unsung) volunteers in Orphan Care continue their nearly non-stop care for the tiny patients peeping and begging for food. Hopefully this will be the last year the endless and heroic job of feeding and tending to the needs of these bundles of hope for the next generation will have to be accomplished in the cramped quarters of the designated OC area. Thank you to all OC volunteers for your tireless service!
The near fledgling RTH that I brought in two weeks ago was recovering from his case of canker but something concerned Jan. Whenever a large piece of the protozoan growth dies and breaks off, the hole in the tissue behind it can lead to uncontrolled hemorrhage and this bird had a lump of it the size of a tennis ball in its throat. Jan was afraid the resulting eruption could take out the bird’s crop. Dr. Orr examined the bird and last week and sutured the opening shut after removing the diseased portion. We’re all hoping the only member of this family will survive!
Another little kestrel came in recently with a damaged foot. Kestrels have long, thin toes and sometimes they get caught on things. If the constriction is not removed, the circulation is cut off and the appendage can die. Fortunately for these birds, they have four toes and as long as they retain the back one (known as the halux), they can learn to adapt adequately. Notice another adaptation of kestrels – the “false eyes” on the back of his head. These are thought to scare off predators approaching from behind as they appear as if the bird is looking toward the rear!
And while we’re on the subject of kestrels, I had to get a picture of these two little siblings that arrived as orphans. Now in the care of Med Services, they will be cared for until they can be placed with our foster parents Gilda and Fitz. Did I mention they have long skinny toes? And in the twin-baby column, the lower photo shows two baby great blue herons (yes, they will be 4 feet tall eventually!) that were hatched at Liberty a short while ago. All shapes and sizes pass through our facility…
Well, I hate to beat a dead horse, but I will anyway. Another glue pad trap arrived the other day, complete with all parts of the local food chain: A cricket, obviously being stalked by the scorpion, who in turn was probably being hunted by the gecko, who ended up being pursued by the cactus wren – your state bird. If you look closely at the text on the pad, it says “Catches Mice, snakes, crickets, Bats, Fleas, Ticks, Mites, Lice, Roaches, Brown Recluse Spiders, and other potentially Disease Transmitting insects” if you can read through the feathers of the cactus wren – which is conveniently NOT mentioned on the list. Actually, the only thing on the list that this one did catch was the cricket. I suppose we should all be impressed because it’s “Non-Poisonous” and proudly made in the USA… (And BATS? Really?!?!)
Again, Dr. Becker provided a large amount of help at Vet Night last Tuesday. With all the patients we have this time of year, it’s great to have a full staff of experienced people to treat the animals. In addition to the usual cast of characters, our own Sara Wycoff who is going to vet school at Midwestern University was on hand to help out and get some hands-on experience with the help of Jan and Dr. Becker. She wants to work in Wildlife Conservation Medicine when she is done in 2018. Hopefully she’ll be able to donate some of her skills to Liberty down the road!
And now, just a few fun pictures from last week…