A September reminder of what Wild Things Sanctuary wildlife heroes have achieved, lives they've saved, and dreams they dream!
Will I go home?

click on the picture to see this little Screech Owl return home!

     This little Eastern Screech Owl arrived at Wild Things Sanctuary after being hit by a truck. He was immediately picked up by the driver and brought to Wild Things. Would he survive? But more importantly, would he ever be able to return home?

     Every time an animal arrives at Wild Things Sanctuary the big questions are: Will this animal be able to return home? What is the extent of his/her injuries or issues? Will rehabilitation help the animal go home or will rehabilitation just sustain a grim life in captivity?

      When a rehabilitator gets a phone call about an injured or orphaned wild animal a decision needs to be made, usually within minutes, of how to help and if to help the animal who might (or might not) be in need. There is a high level of anxiety with these phone calls; even after years of experience with patients, the rehabilitator is keenly aware that whatever decision and advice he or she dispenses will usually mean life, or death, for that animal.

      (Add this psychological torment as one more thing on the long list of difficulties and stresses in the life of a wildlife rehabilitator!)

      If the animal comes to the rehabilitation center, often a long course of treatment begins aiming towards wildlife rehabilitation’s ultimate goal: returning the wild thing to its home.

      At most wildlife rehabilitation centers the mortality rate is close to 50%. Why so high? Because generally wild animals are not able to be caught and cared for until they are extremely poorly off. In addition, once an animal is wild and has all of its wild behaviors, it may not tolerate a life in captivity and often not even a period of time recovering in a rehabilitation center. This means that even if an animal can be saved but the stress of rehabilitation is too great, or if the animal can be saved but will not be “releaseable,” sadly, the patient may have to be put down.

     There are exceptions; some patients are behaviorally adaptable enough to be kept in captivity as a non-releasable educational animal or surrogate parent to rehabilitation babies of the same species. But if they are kept in captivity it means a lifetime of dedication to their physical and behavioral care. It is also necessary to obtain the proper licenses and inspections from various agencies.

      So, when patients like this little (~120g or about 4.5oz) Screech Owl arrive, injuries must be assessed and a prognosis made, all the while keeping the above variables in mind. There is a fine line between wildlife rehabilitation and wild animal torture. Every rehabilitator needs to be aware of this line and try to stay on the side of rehablitation. Would this little “Screechie’s” injuries and course of treatment be rehabilitation or torture?

      Amazingly, this little 4.5oz beauty (Screech Owls are usually grey or chestnut colored, this little one was a mix!) triumphed over a few tonnes of confrontational metal! He must have just been nipped by the truck as he had no broken bones and no obvious internal injuries. But an examination of his eyes showed that both of the eyes had sustained damage. There were a few tears deep within his eyes and one of the muscles controlling pupil reflex was damaged. Often these injuries can heal with time and medications, and I decided to give him a chance.

      Over two months of rest, anti-inflammatories, pain medications and antibiotics sorted him out! One eye had some scarring, but that did not appear to affect his ability to see and to hunt. Studies have shown that because some species of owls, including Screech Owls, rely on hearing AND vision to hunt, one damaged eye may not affect life in the wild if hearing is intact.

      And so, on one lovely summer night (same night as my nephew’s graduation which is why I’m dressed up in the video!) we released this lovely bird back home. If you watch the video carefully (click on above picture to see video) you will see that he even left me a little present before taking off! He never would have had a chance had he been left out in the wild that night he was hit by the truck.

As Margaret Wise might write,

Fly, Fly, my little feathered child, out of the rehab center, into the wild!

IG Thank You to Renée Staffeld
Assistant Animal Care Manager & WTS 2011 Summer Intern

Renee with one of her charges
     Renée Staffeld has just completed her tenure as the Wild Things' SUPERSTAR 2011 Summer Intern and joins Wild Things Sanctuary as the Assistant Animal Care Manager. Renée first came to Wild Things last summer when she was working at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. A few folks over there found a baby raccoon, named it Zeppelin and brought it to Wild Things (he is now living in the Wild Woods).

     A classically trained dancer, Renée can now be found juggling her time between school, where she is studying to pursue various goals in the animal care and veterinary world, work and Wild Things. Despite having to drive over an hour every morning, she arrived at Wild Things bright eyed every early morning and ready to take on the challenges of assisting in running a wildlife rehabilitation center. This autumn she is set to take her New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Exam to become a fully licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Go Renée!

     Here are a few insights from her summer that she shares with us…

Why does wildlife rehabilitation appeal to you?
      I feel that with all that mankind has done to displace the natural world, the least we can do is to help those creatures who are at the whims of our continued growth when they need help. The vast majority of the animals that I worked with this summer were only under our care due to a human created issue. In other words if it hadn't been for some person's cat, car or carelessness the animal wouldn't have been injured or sick in the first place.  So I feel a responsibility to these animals, to at least give a helping hand and relieve any amount of suffering that I can.  I also believe that is important to show other people that we should care, and there is no better way to do that than by example.
Why Wild Things Sanctuary (WTS)?
      WTS is a truly remarkable place; I knew that from the first time I set foot here.  As I drove up the long heavily wooded driveway, I knew I was entering a very special kind of sanctuary.  Set in the middle of the woods, one could almost imagine that Wild Things Sanctuary is the only human presence in the woods for miles.  Not only is it a sanctuary for animals, but people as well.  Due to the amazingly peaceful nature of Wild Things, my ability to learn and absorb new knowledge practically tripled which helped me greatly to feel confident about taking on the huge responsibility of caring for the many animals that found their way to us this year.
Final Project
      At the end of my internship my final project was to raise a litter of 7 baby opossums.  When they came to us they only weighed an average of 22 grams, which meant that they were on the cusp of being in extreme danger of dying because they were so young.  In the beginning they needed to be fed about 5 or 6 times a day.  Feeding them involved the process of sticking a tiny rubber tube down their esophagus into their stomachs and filling their stomachs with formula.  This process is known as “gavage feeding” and takes a great deal of patience and time.  After practicing it many times this summer I felt confident that I could raise these babies!  After taking them wherever I went and repeatedly having to tell friends “sure I can do that, but I will need to feed the baby opossums by such-and-such a time,” I’ve definitely learned that there is a lot to being a mom, even if it is for only a few months!  There is a lot to taking care of wild animals period.  As rewarding as it is, there is just as much hard work, spent time and smelly butts to wipe to make one realize that wildlife rehabilitation is extremely hard as well as emotionally and physically tiring!!   I will now spend my winter in hibernation, sleeping and recuperating for yet another season.
A Ruby Throated Hummingbird youngster

September Wildlife Tip!
Hummingbirds are amazing creatures! These tiny birds migrate hundreds and even thousands of miles twice a year! 

Over here on the East coast, the same hummer you see at your feeder in New York in July, may be soaking up the sun in Mexico come winter! And that same bird might return to your feeder the next summer.

This little hummer in the picture above, was raised and released at Wild Things in the summer of 2009 and has returned!

Hummingbirds need a lot of energy to sustain themselves during their travels. A common myth is that keeping your hummingbird feeder up after a certain date will cause birds to stick around, not migrate, and ultimately succumb to the winter chill.

This isn't true!
Hummingbirds will migrate whether you keep your feeder up or take it down.

But by keeping your feeder up through September you will be helping little hummers who have summered to the north and are passing through your yard on their long way south.

By keeping your hummingbird feeder up and filled you may well provide life-giving sustenance to these little travellers along their long road to their winter homes!

I'm a Baby Opossum!
Wild Things needs your help!

Hi! I'm a baby opossum!

My mother was hit by a car and I came to Wild Things with my 6 brothers and sisters. And then we got another few siblings too!

We were born very late in the season so we may not be big enough to be released before winter. But we will have a great place to spend the cold months thanks to everyone's donations to the Larry's Lounge project!

THANK YOU on behalf of all orphan opossums!!

Want to help more wildlife patients?
Babies need formula, critical patients need long term care meaning lots of food and medications, there is always a need of bedding material & detergent to clean the bedding material, more outdoor enclosures are needed, etc....etc....

Help save a wild child!

Mission Statement
Wild Things Sanctuary (WTS) is dedicated to helping native wildlife through rescuing and rehabilitating debilitated and orphaned/displaced animals until they are ready for release back into the wild.
Eventually, WTS is also aiming to provide a sanctuary for non-releasable native animals.

WTS is also committed to improving the well-being of wildlife through public education; focusing on how humans can safely and peacefully coexist with native wildlife, and on wildlife’s importance to man and the environment.

Private Ryan,
sole survivor of 4 brothers,
a few weeks after arrival (above) and after release (below)

Thank you for helping me return home!
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