Latest News

Turtletastic by Emily Roy

Comments off 612 Views0

 

 

 

Turtletastic

by Emily Roy, Wild at Heart volunteer

 

Since it first opened its doors over thirty years ago, Wild at Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre has been a home to hundreds of injured, ill, or orphaned wildlife, from dainty songbirds to clever foxes. One of the most common visitors to Wild at Heart, however, are turtles. Every year, volunteers from various backgrounds work hard to help run this non-profit organization dedicated to keeping the wild wild, and, every year, these volunteers find themselves caring for dozens of these shelly reptiles.

 

Most drivers do not realize they are one of the most common reasons as to why turtles find their way into the care of Wild at Heart and other wildlife refuge centres. Most of these motorists are worried about hitting a deer, and do not realize turtles are yet another animal to watch out for when driving down the highway. When a turtle is hit, their most important method of protection, their shell, can get damaged.

Figure 7

Figure One: Increase in turtle victims during mating (May-June) and hibernation (September) season using Wild at Heart admission data from 2008-2015.

 

The road to recovering from a cracked shell is a long and tedious one. In the end, it is definitely worth it when the turtle is returned to its natural habitat, ready to face the wilds once more. The common beginning to the story of a turtle’s success is a visit from a vet. The injured area is cleaned to prevent infections and a type of disease known as shell rot, which occurs when unwelcome bacteria festers in the exposed wound and causes the shell plates to soften or fall off, as though they are rotting (Image One).

 

paintedturtlem

Image One: Disinfecting a painted turtle’s injuries using a betadine solution. (Photo: Monica Seidel).

 

After disinfecting and dressing the wound, any severe wounds are patched with wire or plate (Image Two). If the crack is small enough, gauze and tape are used. Either way, shells do take time to mend, thus it is important to take care of the turtle to encourage the injuries to heal as quick as possible. A turtle’s tank must always have clean water and an area where the turtle can rest and completely dry off. A heat lamp must always be on as turtles, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded and rely on the sun to warm up. In this case, the sun is a light bulb.

animals-76

Image Two: Blanding’s turtle with repair to cracked shell. (Photo: Sam Hunter).

 

Alas, needs can change for each individual turtle, and the methods used vary depending on the veterinarian treating the turtle. It is important to always bring a turtle with a cracked shell to a professional, rather than trying to fix it by oneself.

 

In Northern Ontario, there are three types of turtle native to the wilds that visit Wild at Heart throughout the year. These are the painted turtle, the snapping turtle, and the Blanding’s turtle. Contrary to popular the popular belief that turtles are slow critters, painted turtles leave that stereotype in the dust when a water source is in view. These speedy turtles are named for their distinctive, colourful markings along their shells and skin (Image Three). They are a common turtle throughout North America, and can live for up to 55 years in the wild.

Image Three: Painted turtle basking while recovering at Wild at Heart. (Photo: Kathleen Dicker).

 

When it comes to camouflage, the snapping turtle has that covered. These large turtles spend most of their life underwater, so much so that algae begin to grow on them. This allows them to blend in with their environments, and makes it easier to catch their meal, whether it consists of fish, insects, or even other, smaller, turtles. Snapping turtles can also be dangerous. Their sharp beaks are meant for cutting, not crushing, and they can bite through human fingers (Image Four). Should you ever come across an injured or ill snapping turtle, it is important to contact Wild at Heart to get experienced advice.

Figure 4

Image Four: Close-up of snapping turtle’s powerful beak. (Photo: Yubi Kuroda).

 

Last but not least is the Blanding’s turtle (Image Five). Unlike most species of turtle in Ontario, the shell of a Blanding’s turtle is shaped like a dome (Image Six). Like many species of turtle, the Blanding’s turtle takes quite a while to reach sexual maturity. In this case, a female Blanding’s turtle can take up to 25 years to fully mature.

Figure 2a

     Image Five: Close-up of a Blanding’s turtle.          

Figure 2cImage Six: Dome-shaped shell of a Blanding’s turtle.

(Photos: Nele van Daele & Sarah Townson).

 

One thing these three species of turtle have in common is they are or are close to being “threatened” in Northern Ontario. Whether it is through habitat loss, road accidents, or natural predators, the populations of these turtles are dwindling. It is important to keep turtles alive and well so future generations can experience their beauty first-hand, rather than by looking at pictures of what once was. Turtles are an important part of the ecosystem, and it is important they stay wild.

 

Wild at Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre
95 White Road, Lively ON P3Y 1C3
705-692-4478 wahrefugecentre.org

 

Read more about turtles here: wahrefugecentre.org/turtle-awareness-campaign-national-wildlife-week/

 

Spring Animal Care Internships

Comments off 1300 Views0

Wild At Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre is now looking for interns from February – June 2017.

 

Wild at Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre is a licensed wildlife rehabilitation centre dedicated to the care of a wide variety of orphaned, sick, and injured wildlife. The centre admits over 750 animals per year and works closely with a team of veterinarians. Wild at Heart is located in a small northern Ontario town, Lively, 15 km west of Sudbury, with access to public transportation. We offer a friendly fast paced learning opportunity in a climate controlled work environment. Facilities include access to a kitchenette, wireless Internet, and limited free on-­site accommodations. Food costs are not included.

Internship Duration:

All intern positions are voluntary and full time. Position duration varies from a minimum of 2 months up to maximum of 6 months, 5 days per week, 40-­50 hours per week. Schedule is rotating and includes days, evenings and weekends. Preference will be given to intern applicants dedicated to internships longer than 2 months.

 

Position Descriptions:

Animal care Internship:

The successful interns will gain valuable practical experience in wildlife rehabilitation techniques while caring for a variety of native mammals, birds, and reptiles. Duties include animal admissions, diet preparation and feeding, cage cleaning, medication administration, wound management, and other daily care needs of the wildlife patients. No experience is necessary, but commitment to the duration of the internship is required.

Animal Care Leader Internship:

Intern leaders are involved in all of the above, with more focus on management of a particular species such as squirrels, raccoons, or songbirds. Leaders would be responsible for their assigned species, including monitoring health of individuals and assisting in mentoring of other interns and volunteers. Experience in wildlife rehabilitation techniques is advisable. The minimum length of the animal care leader internship is 4 months or longer, depending on the species of interest.

Qualifications:

* At least 18 years of age

* Commitment to the length of the internship

* Must be reliable, very dedicated, able to multi­-task, and commit to work hours according to the needs of the animals.

* Also able to perform repetitive, physically demanding tasks in a fast-paced, team-oriented environment.

* Criminal background check may be requested.

Accommodations

We provide on-site accommodations, but these are limited and are reserved quickly. There is a kitchen, sitting area, two washrooms as well as shared bedrooms. Please state on your application whether or not you would like to be considered for accommodations.

To Apply: Please email resume with cover letter explaining why you are interested in joining our rehabilitation team (please include start and end dates available and specify which position you are applying for) to:

monica@wahrefugecentre.org

* SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY PLEASE

PRESS RELEASE – Sept. 24 BBQ Fundraiser

Comments off 601 Views0

Piece by Emily Roy, Wild At Heart volunteer

There are few things better than a delicious hamburger after a run to grab some supplies on a sunny afternoon, and shoppers of TSC Hardware weren’t disappointed by the barbecue that greeted them just outside the doors. The team of volunteers behind Wild at Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre worked hard to make their barbecue fundraiser a success. With dozens of community members coming out for a bite to eat on Saturday, September the 24th, it would be hard not to call it one. Hamburgers and hot dogs fresh from the grill filled the stomachs of diverse members of the community, from elders who couldn’t help cracking a joke or two, to little girls who aspired to volunteer to help animals in need in the future. Wild At Heart would like to thank the staff of TSC Hardware who couldn’t have been more inviting during the event. So many members of the community showed their support for Northern Ontario’s wildlife simply by showing up and asking questions about Wild At Heart. All funds collected from the event were donated directly to Wild At Heart. Whether the funds are used to help construct enclosures, purchase medication and other medical supplies, or food and bedding for the hundreds of animals Wild At Heart takes in every year, they are sure to be put to good use. Good food, good weather, a good cause; what could be better?

Don’t forget to order your Wild At Heart Memberships and 2017 Calendars, just in time for the holidays!

 

TSC poster

Union Gas Partnership – Moose Pen Construction

Comments off 654 Views0

Wild At Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre (WAH) is the only facility of its kind in Northern Ontario. Over 900 animals are treated annually, and the number of animals in need of help are continually increasing. These include songbirds, raptors, small and large mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. WAH promotes wildlife conservation by providing veterinary care and rehabilitation to injured, sick or orphaned wildlife in Northern Ontario with the goal of releasing rehabilitated animals back into the wild. WAH has four committees that work to accomplish different parts of our mission, take part in specialized projects, and help our organization continue our success. Our committees are: animal care, education, construction, and fundraising.

13442456_250065118710092_8433166163998617180_o

There are over 10 outbuildings which have been built, primarily by volunteers, to enable treatment programs for small and large mammals, as well as avian species. We have recently built a moose enclosure with professional chain link fence, a loafing pen, and running water in a small creek. Over the summer of 2016, this moose pen was leveled and cleared of brush to help prevent the risk of injury to any calves in our care. Metal doors were added to the front of the pen to provide a safe area for the calves to rest overnight. To ensure the pen overall is predator-proof, 1000 liner feet of hardware cloth skirting (see photos below) will be installed, made possible because of a generous $1000.00 donation from Union Gas. This donation, along with a volunteer team working to make repairs on the pen and pen shelter, will allow WAH to safely house any orphaned moose calves brought in the spring of 2017 (anticipated completion date).
14359672_1198233816899443_176106862_o 14360511_1198233840232774_1924450939_o

Archive – Spring 2016 Message

Comments off 595 Views0

Wild At Heart – Our Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Spring 2016 message from the President, Dr. Rod Jouppi


Figure 2aIt may seem like winter right now but slowly and surely, things are changing in our forests and lakes. Starting in April, Wild At Heart gets very busy with our annual spring rush of orphaned animals, injured animals and sick animals. In order to get ready, we are very busy right now repairing cages, painting and cleaning/organizing so we can be efficient during our busy time for animal care. We really rely on our interns and volunteers year round!

In late winter, nature ensures survival of species through reproduction and the arrival of babies – bears start to wake up, turtles wait for ice to be thawed on lakes, and birds start to return from the south. In northern Ontario, we are so fortunate to be in the midst of this awakening scene – we are surrounded by wildlife. It is a fantastic experience to be a witness to animal sightings and to be able to do small things for our environment to ensure healthy surroundings and healthy wildlife.

One of the issues that we have found every spring is that people are sometimes too kind. People see a babyanimal in their back yard and immediately think they need to get involved, often “kidnapping” a baby animal. Young animals are not unlike young kids. They do some strange things, like go into a stranger’s yard. The mother is usually nearby watching at a distance. The best thing to do is to ensure your pet is indoors and leave the animal alone unless you are sure it is injured. Snowshoe hares are independent after 3 weeks of age and mothers often have 2 or 3 litters every summer. Mothers usually only come by in the morning and evening to feed them so often, they may look abandoned but they are not. Please call if you find a hare on its on before bringing it in. Fledgling birds often leave their nest a day or so early. Please leave them be and they will be flying before you know it.

Recently, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommended that New Englanders stay 150 feet away from lone baby seals. Gray seals deliver pups around this time along the New England coast, and mothers may leave pups temporarily in search of food. Crying pups are not in distress, just missing mom, say NOAA experts. We don’t have baby seals here but we do have a host of other wild babies who may give you the impression they need help but really don’t.

Sometimes we will find a litter of raccoons in our garage. Please do not interfere until the babies are 7 or 8 weeks old and then create noise, lights and they will leave with mother. Then repair the area so you don’t have a repeat issue next spring. If we interfere too early, the chance of these babies being successfully released from a captive situation is much poorer than if they are brought up naturally.

Wild At Heart does a terrific job caring for young animals but we are no match for mother. Sometimes, animals are truly orphans and we do need to get involved. If you suspect this, call Wild At Heart at 705-692-4478 and we will discuss it with you if you need to get involved, and how to get involved. Remember, orphans have very special needs with respect to diet and care. Feeding them the wrong thing, even once can be fatal!

Last year, Wild At Heart cared for over 900 wild animals, all with the extraordinary help of generous donors and volunteers. We cannot care for unlimited numbers of wild animals. If people get involved too soon, these numbers will become so large that we will be forced to stop admissions and young animals may need to be humanely euthanized. Wildlife Centres can only do so much – we all have finite caging, food and help. If we are not able to provide proper care, we have to make tough decisions. Last year, almost all Centres had to stop taking in raccoons. This year, if we can all do our bit, hopefully we won’t have any animals at our Centre that were kidnapped.

TSC BBQ Fundraiser – Sept. 24

Comments off 630 Views0

TSC stores across Canada are celebrating their 50th anniversary by hosting a fundraising event for a local charity, and the Sudbury location has chosen Wild At Heart! Join us Saturday, September 24th, 2016 from 11am-5pm for a BBQ at 1933 Regent Street. Wild At Heart volunteers and interns will be at the event all day, so feel free to come by and talk to us about the animals in our care, and how to get involved in our construction, animal care, education, and fundraising committees!

TSC poster

Snapping Turtle Eggs Hatching!

Comments off 646 Views0

 

On July 27, 2016 a nest of snapping turtle eggs was brought to Wild At Heart to be incubated. These turtles were found while a sandpit was being dug up by a construction team. The eggs have been incubating since July, and on August 24th, 2016, some of the eggs began to hatch! This is a huge success, as painted turtles are susceptible to population declines from threats like habitat destruction and pollution. They have a long-lived life history, so each new member of the population that can be re-introduced back to the wild is critical. Snapping turtles are a Species of Special Concern.

You can learn more about painted turtles, as well as painted and Blanding’s turtles, in Wild At Heart’s article for National Wildlife Week 2016.

14152120_1179362762119882_878070630_o

Upcoming 2017 Calendar Sales

Comments off 651 Views0

Wild At Heart has had another very busy and successful summer of rehabilitating injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife. Our dedicated volunteers and interns have helped hundreds of animals, including small rodents, songbirds, large mammals, waterfowl, and everything in between! Newborn songbirds and rodents require special care, including feedings every 45-60 minutes for over 15 hours a day, stimulating, and special diets that change as the animal grows. While we are still taking in newborn wildlife, we are moving many of the animals to their outside cages where they will have less human contact, can play, and can practice hunting and climbing in a more natural setting. Many of these animals will be released in the coming weeks so they have enough time to find suitable habitat and food sources before the winter months arrive.

Figure 5

All of this work would not be possible without the dedication from volunteers and interns who help with daily animal care and fundraising. As a charitable non-profit, volunteer-based organization that promotes wildlife conservation, Wild At Heart relies heavily on community support. With this support, we are able to provide quality veterinary care and rehabilitation to injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife in Northern Ontario, with the goal of releasing rehabilitated animals back into the wild.

Cover

One of our main fundraisers is our annual calendar sale. These calendars feature photographs taken by our volunteers and interns, as well as educational write-ups about the animal in the picture. This year, we are asking volunteers to commit to selling 5 calendars each within their personal or work networks. These colourful and informative calendars make great gifts for the holidays, and will brighten up any office space or home area. Please contact our Education Coordinator, Monica at monica@wahrefugecentre.org with your pledge to sell 5 calendars, raising monies to help us help them.

Community Partnerships Essential to WAH – earthdancers

Comments off 828 Views0

Wild At Heart is focused on providing wildlife with quality care and veterinary service to ensure they have the best chance at being released back into the wild. Animals may come in because they are injured, sick, or orphaned, and our dedicated volunteers work around the clock every day to help these animals recover and grow. Community partnerships are essential for Wild At Heart, as we are a non-for-profit that receives no funding. Throughout the year, we have high operation costs, including a mortgage, diet preparation, medication, and utilities. Monetary donations and volunteers giving their time have allowed Wild At Heart to be so successful.

The earthdancers have supported Wild At Heart for several years by donating some of their performance proceeds. The earthdancers is a non-profit contemporary dance organization run by students. For over 25 years, earthdancers has promoted environmental awareness and has raised funds to give to environmental causes through benefit performances held yearly.

The trials and tribulations of a wildlife centre

Comments off 759 Views0

To care for wild animals in Ontario requires quite stringent rules and policies that must be satisfied by the MNR prior to getting certification. Once a wildlife centre opens, there is a serious responsibility to ensure we do the right thing for the animals we care for. This includes providing the appropriate diets for all species, having trained people who are able to provide professional care and having proper facilities in terms of materials, space, ventilation, temperature, etc.

Looking after wildlife is not easy nor is it inexpensive and to top it all off, there is no funding.

Wild At Heart is able to provide the excellent services it does only because we do sometimes receive donations and we have passionate people who care about animals who are willing to donate their time. Having the right menu ingredients for different species is expensive (the food we require for one summer is thousands of dollars). We have various buildings that were often constructed with donated materials and built by volunteers… we pay taxes, utilities just like everyone else.

I have been a veterinarian for over 38 years and I have treated wildlife for 37 of those years. I am a volunteer and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars helping wildlife. Why would I and so many other volunteers do this? Because we care about animals and we care about the environment. Animals are a critical part of ecosystems and healthy ecosystems are a critical necessity to the health of the world and the people in it. Besides, as part of a moral society, we owe a service to the animals we have often hurt or injured because of roads, construction, farms and global warming. Animals are sentient beings. They have feelings and are capable of feeling pain and suffering. We need to do what we can to help.

I have seen a lot of great comments and Thank You’s on our Facebook and when we give presentations to schools and others. But I have also seen a couple of negative comments having to do with an animal dying in our care or that we are full and cannot take more young raccoons or birds and that we sometimes have to humanely euthanize animals.

As far as I know there is not a wildlife centre,, veterinary hospital or human hospital that does not experience death. In the case of wild animals, we often do not have the diagnostics that other hospitals have in order to get blood results, x rays, ECG, MRI, etc. Wildlife centres cannot afford this equipment. Although with experience, we can get pretty good with picking up on medical issues and proper treatments. I have taken the time to get educated in various areas that are important to wildlife: courses for turtles, raptors and specialized techniques. Treating wild animals is not just like treating domestic animals and requires special efforts and training even after veterinary school. The other thing that often happens is that people can bring animals to us when they are sick or have been fed the wrong foods although they may not look sick at that moment. Baby wild animals can pass away very quickly often with very little in the way of symptoms. We cannot be successful in all cases. Just as the person who takes the time to bring in an animal, the people who volunteer are also very upset when we cannot save every animal. All we can do is give it our best effort , which often is enough.

Death is a common occurrence when you deal with injured, orphaned and sick wild animals but it is never easy for the people who devote countless hours in efforts to save every animal they can. Baby animals need to be fed, cleaned and stimulated to urinate and defecate every 2 – 4 hours. Now multiply this by 150 animals needing care at one time and you get an idea of the amount of time caretakers spend with every animal at Wild At Heart.

As a wildlife centre, we cannot save every animal and we cannot take in every animal that needs to be cared for.  As I mentioned, we have to supply appropriate housing and care for every animal we admit. For example, we have 46 raccoons and when they are 12 weeks of age, we will need over 1500 sq. ft. in outdoor housing. We have a bit less than that available for raccoons. We cannot take in any more raccoons otherwise we would be contravening the MNR requirements and we would not be able to provide what the raccoons need for a successful release. Just like every other wildlife centre that I know of in Ontario, we are all full and cannot take any more raccoons – we are also full now with respect to baby songbirds for the same reasons. We must now make the difficult decision of humanely euthanizing some animals at this time of year. This is not an easy decision but the other choice would be to let them die a slow death in the wild. Sometimes, there is no easy way to tell a person who shows up with an animal that we are not able to care for it. Often the person at the door also feels very bad about telling this to a person and may not do it as well as an experienced person. We do not have a designated person to do this although if people phone in first, I always try and call them to alert them. After I talk to the people involved, they generally understand that we can only do our best.

I would like to conclude by letting everyone know that we always welcome volunteers who would like to help in this fantastic voyage. By getting this first hand experience, it will go a long way to develop understanding of what we do and why we do it.

 

Dr. Rod Jouppi

President/Founder

Wild At Heart