Wild At Heart – Our Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Spring 2016 message from the President, Dr. Rod Jouppi
It 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.