You can train to join the Wildlife Rehabilitators
By Daisy Mae Delray
Oct 31, 2013, 12:48
My good friend Susan Siekman called last week to find out who to contact about an injured Blue Heron she saw. Susan was concerned because it only had one foot and she suspected that some critter had taken the foot off.
Fortunately I had just interviewed Alison Sharpe, the director of the Wildlife Care & Rescue Center, Inc. (WCRC) so I had a phone number to give her. It turned out that this heron is known to the center and is monitored to be sure it is finding food and is able to function normally.
Herons stand on one foot, pulling the other leg up close to their chests to regulate their temperature and to relax the muscles on the leg elevated. I was relieved to learn that, unlike humans who are left or right handed, herons are ambidextrous so the loss of a foot is not a death sentence.
Where I live in the Cedar Point area of Bay Saint Louis, we are close to wildlife. Dorty Necaise, our animal control officer, is usually the first person called about pelicans caught in fishing line or wandering turtles or injured birds.
I want you to know that there is a direct line to call if you find wildlife in distress. Call the Wildlife Care & Rescue Center at 228-669-2737. Post in on your refrigerator.
Alison Sharpe – who I mentioned before is the WCRC director – is one of those people destined to be in wildlife rescue. As a kid, she was forever bringing injured animals home, especially birds. Since 1994 when the WCRC was founded, thousands of animals have been helped. This 501 (c) 3 charitable organization works under state and federal permits to provide care for injured, sick and orphaned wildlife.
Alison told me about a five-foot long Gulf Sturgeon that was found in the Pascagoula River a few years ago with an odd problem. Its swim bladder had inflated, stayed that way and it could not submerge. Well, the rehab team managed to deflate the swim bladder and contacted the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Turns out that the sturgeon had been micro- chipped in the Leaf River in the '70's. How cool is that?
Natural and manmade disasters impact the habitats of our wildlife.
I remember the photographs of the birds covered in oil after the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Smaller localized versions of habitat damage occur every day. I asked Alison how we can help. One thing she told me was to tell my gentle readers to consider training to be a rehabilitator. I'll bet that you are unaware that almost all birds are protected by federal law while state laws protect most other wildlife. To rehabilitate requires special permits from the state wildlife agency and rehabilitators who wish to work with birds need permits from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Under their direction, volunteers are trained to foster the wildlife patients.
The first intake center for the WCRC was destroyed by Katrina so the ribbon cutting of the new building last week in Gautier was an exciting event.
The new facility is a triage center for hurt animals. There they are evaluated, treated and placed with the trained volunteer fosters for further rehabilitation with a goal towards release back into their natural habitat.
We are fortunate here in Hancock County to have our own intake center.
It is located right next to Pet Haven Veterinary Hospital in Bay Saint Louis. The assistant director of the center is Sherell Brignac who works at Pet Haven.
When a call is made to the main center number and the need is for help in Hancock County Sherell is given the information and will accept the injured animal at the Bay Saint Louis intake office. The office is only open when a call comes in as there are not enough volunteers to staff the Hancock County intake center full time. I found out that there are only 5 volunteers in Hancock County.
Do you want to help? First, go to the WCRC Facebook page and join. There is so much more to learn about the Center than I can tell you about here. You can take a class to be a foster. The September class had ten students. Alison and Sherell would be happy to hold one here in Hancock County. My person is signing up.
If you don't have the time to be a foster you can invite the Center to come and do an education program. You can donate, online donations are accepted.
Finally, you can keep your eyes open for wildlife in distress and call the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center to ask for advice on what to do. According to the Center, " Should you rescue a wild animal, cardboard boxes are good holding containers. Place the container in a quiet warm area. Do not take pictures as this causes unnecessary stress and do not provide food as this may cause additional complications."
Well, I'm done for the day - keep your tail high and your feet dry. p.s. don't forget to go to Barktoberfest on Saturday the 2nd to help raise awareness and money for spay/neuter and adoptions for the Hancock County Animal Shelter. I hear that Friends of the Animal Shelter has a petting zoo coming in for the day.
Daisy Mae Delray, a certified seizure alert dog, began writing for the Delray Sun Newspaper in 2004. From 2005 to 2011 she was on staff for the two Alexandria Virginia newspapers, The Alexandria Gazette and the Alexandria Times. She has also written for the Washington Post, Her focus is on the human pet companion bond. Among her most impressive stories was an interview with Congressman Jim Moran who quoted her on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of animal anti-cruelty legislation.
Christina Richardson, Daisy Mae’s human companion, is a management consultant who moved to Bay Saint Louis in September 2011. She began covering news for the Delray Sun shortly after Daisy Mae wrote her first column. She subsequently wrote for the Alexandria Gazette and then the Alexandria Times. She was a staff reporter specializing in business news and general interest stories.