Category Archives: Wildlife Rehab Weekly

Every week I volunteer at Wildwoods in Duluth, MN. It’s a wildlife rehabilitation facility and I get to help injured and orphaned critters get back on their feet. Visit to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation.
Please note: I am NOT a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, nor am I a representative of Wildwoods. I simply volunteer my time. What I write here is not necessarily the opinion nor guidance that Wildwoods would express.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road to animal cruelty is much the same.

It’s really difficult some days to hold one’s tongue. A woman brought a pigeon in to the wildlife rehab place I work for with a severely broken leg. Her dog had gotten hold of it a week and a half prior. She knew about us, but thought she could raise it on her own, try to set the leg and splint it herself. Continue reading The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road to animal cruelty is much the same.


A Hypothermic Red Squirrel

Wednesdays are my office days at Wildwoods so I have less contact with animals than on other shifts, but there is no avoiding it. Once you set foot on WW property, if you are staff you will end up caring for animals. Last night a red squirrel came in while the other staff were busy so I admitted him. He had been caught by a cat, had spinal trauma and a laceration on his neck. Continue reading A Hypothermic Red Squirrel

Wildlife Rehab is Not a Fairy Tale

Most people, I have found, have no idea what it’s really like to be a wildlife rehabber. They can’t even imagine or put themselves in our shoes. I think a lot of people feel like we just play with cute animals all day. Disney, among others, has done a major disservice to wildlife by portraying animals as creatures that should be cuddled with. It’s not at all like that. It’s hard. So incredibly hard. I want to share with you what my last animal care shift was like so that maybe you will understand that when you call a wildlife rehabber and they ask a ton of questions or sound rude, it’s not because we’re mean or we think you’re lying, we’re not being short with you because of you. We’re exhasted in every possible sense of the word. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically exhausted. We are short-staffed, we are under-funded, we are constantly dealing with volunteers and interns who don’t show up, or people who lie to our faces about the wildlife they bring to us, and so many of our days go like this: Continue reading Wildlife Rehab is Not a Fairy Tale

Cove Point Loop, Superior Hiking Trail

The Inconvenience of Holding a Leash

Things tend to happen in waves at Wildwoods, which makes sense as we are working with nature. There are seasons. First squirrel and bunny babies, then fawns and fledglings in the spring. As we move into summer and “baby” season comes to a close, we enter injured adult season. Even that has its own sub-seasons. For example, over the last couple weeks we’ve gotten in at least five or six painted turtles that have been hit by cars as they try to cross the road. But there is another wave of injuries happening that is completely preventable, though not many people around here seem to think the inconvenience is worth it. Every time we talk about it people get upset, some even get very irrational and seem to believe that the responsibility of keeping wildlife safe from this particular threat is Wildwoods’ alone, and not that of the caller. Continue reading The Inconvenience of Holding a Leash

Wild Animals as Pets

For two years I have been a volunteer with my local wildlife rehabilitation facility and this year they have made me a part-time paid staff member. This means I get to participate in more complicated procedures, handle a wider variety of animals, and learn more about rehabilitation, but it also means I am exposed more and more to the harder side of things. Euthanasia, specifically. The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to rehabilitate wildlife so they can continue to live a full life, in the wild, as they were intended to do. One thing that really hampers this effort, I am learning, is what people do to the animals before they bring them to us. Take, for example, a young squirrel I had to euthanize yesterday. Continue reading Wild Animals as Pets

"Cottontail Rabbit" by Nan Palmero is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Feels So Good

Image credit: “Cottontail Rabbit” by Nan Palmero is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Husband and I set out on a walk with the pup Sunday night and found ourselves an adventure, just a few blocks from our door. A Cottontail rabbit sitting nearly motionless in the middle of the road had been hit by a car. We had two choices: keep walking and hope for the best, or do what we could to help it. For me, there was no decision at all. Continue reading Feels So Good

"Starry Starry Winter's Night" by jimmy brown is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Worst Outcome

A man I work with told me he had once rescued a gray fox somewhere in Pennsylvania. It had been hit by a car and he found a rehab place that would do surgery to mend its broken leg. After a while he called back to see how the fox was doing and they told him they’d had to put it down because the injury was not healing properly. The man was really upset by this; he felt like it had all been for nothing and that he should have either found somewhere else to take it, or should have left it where he found it. Continue reading The Worst Outcome

Learning new things

Photo above from ARKive of the American kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Last night I learned how to administer liquids subcutaneously on an Eastern Gray Squirrel and an American Kestrel. Sometimes animals can’t or won’t eat or drink on their own so to make sure they stay hydrated we need to carefully (and with proper training) inject liquids just below the skin so their body can absorb it. I was always a little afraid to do this and when they were training me they kept saying things like, “don’t do this or you’ll hit bone,” or muscle or veins… all bad things. But it went well and now I know how to safely “sub-q.” Continue reading Learning new things

The Internet Lies Sometimes

Blue jay
“Blue jay” by Melissa McMasters, on Flickr

Remember when I posted about a nestling blue jay that had been brought to us after the finder had fed it dog kibble? Well, it happened again. This well-intentioned finder kept him for two months and fed him dog food, apparently on the advice of something that had been seen on the internet. Continue reading The Internet Lies Sometimes