I mailed out over 70 handmade cards to people who had brought me animals in the past. In 2012 I did not send out a "begging letter" because my hands were too compromised from Carpal tunnel inflammation which required surgery on both hands in January this year. So I included a 2-year update on the more memorable animals I had received during the last two years. - I received four responses thus far, one was a mere "good to hear from you". Right now I can raise 6 -7 squirrels with the donations I received. I am so very grateful to the donors, but I am still thousands short to cover the onslaught of 2014. Just once would I like to be able to use our tax refund for much needed home repairs or other things, not dump everything into raising wildlife because so many animals arrive with insufficient or no donations at all.
Are wildlife rehabilitators a dying breed? Most people think we are crazy to work for nothing, to put so much time and money into helping wildlife. Yes, I agree, a vacation would be nice, although I don't even know what that is. We haven't had one in 14 years, the season starts anytime from March/early April and lasts into November. Since I always end up with overwinterers I work 365 days a year. My only days "off" have been when I had surgeries and had to stay in the hospital for a night or two, then my husband took over the feedings. But I was back cleaning cages either on crutches or with bandaged hands and plastic bags over them to protect against fecal contamination the day I got back home. Wildlife is different from domestic animals in that they do not accept a strange person and go crazy and potentially injure themselves in the cage if their flight or fight response is ignored. So even with the worst back or neck pain, headaches, or colds I still have to take care of them. That is just the way it is. I wish we had a new generation that takes this work seriously, but young people want to make money and have weekends off and have fun and not clean poop out of cages instead.
I see all these new housing developments rip into woods and create deep gashes where once wildlife carved out a living. Often city folks don't know anything about wildlife and are shocked and afraid if a displaced animal tries to re-occupy a part of their property because it has no place else to go. They lash out without thinking, often killing a mother and leaving her young to die without realizing what they have done. I wish people would be kinder and more understanding to the wildlife that surrounds us. That doesn't mean feeding them, it means letting them live in peace and not destroying their habitat. How much groomed lawn do you really need? And all those weed killers, do you ever read the warning labels? When cities spray for mosquitoes and tell people to close their windows, do any of you ever think what this poison does to exposed birds and beneficial insects and mammals that can't get away from it?
That old oak tree that drops thousands of acorns onto your driveway, please think THRICE before you decide to take it down. That oak is probably well over 100 years old and took over 50 years to mature before it first produced acorns. Acorns are a vital food for a myriad of wildlife, and the tree itself produces oxygen and shade. Picture the emptiness without this tree and then decide against it. Don't throw the acorns in the trash, put them alongside the edges of your property, where bushes and trees grow, so wildlife can get them and make it through another winter.
I hope that my blog will help you learn about the wildlife that surrounds us and shows you that, aside being vitally important to the ecology of the land, they all have their own personalities and experience grief and pain just the same. The difference is that they have to fend for themselves, and if sick or injured, often directly due to human activity, they have nobody to take care of them. The reason so many adults end up dying is that we usually don't get them until they are so sick that they can't run anymore. Orphans are another matter, without human intervention they would definitely perish. Raising them so they remain wild and succeed upon release is not an easy thing to do. Many people have told me that they have raised a baby squirrel, and to this day you see videos and pictures on the internet where baby squirrels and dogs or cats snuggle and look soooooo cute. A responsible wildlife rehabilitator would NEVER expose a wild animal to either of those two predators because keeping their instinctual fear intact is vital to their survival later on.
Wildlife is not destined to ever become anybody's pet. It sickens me to see "pet" squirrels paraded across FB pages, often these are disabled and deeply depressed animals that can't get away from their captors. I am weeding out such people from my friends list, I don't want to see such suffering which unfortunately is not illegal in some states.
PLEASE put away your cell phone while driving, especially during dusk and dawn. Many animals emerge and attempt to cross roads right before or right after darkness falls, and if your eyes are not focused on the sides of the road where you can pick up the reflection in their eyes and react before it is too late you will either maim or kill an animal or get maimed and killed yourself.
Lastly, if you must drink, don't drive. Or stick to healthy drinks such as milk. You'll look a lot cuter with a milk beard and won't suffer from a hangover into 2014. Take a look!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!