Spring brings orphaned baby wildlife because spring is when people cut down trees, destroying bird and squirrel, or raccoon’s nest.
Then people clean out their sheds or attics and discover that Momma squirrel or raccoon has decided to make her nest there. And horror of horrors Momma skunk has moved in under the back porch. Don’t these animals know they should be in the bush or fields, not in our town?
Well, actually your new subdivision used to be their home. No one asked them to move away and where would they go? No one scouted out other forest or meadows that could accept more of their species living together. How would they know that 15 km out of Belmont there is a possibility of a place for them? No one offered to move them there, so they stayed in the territory they already had, wrongly presuming that you would be willing to share the accommodations you put on their land. No one told them that our Canadian Natives had assumed the same thing when they invited ‘the white man’ so share their land with them.
So Momma is trapped or killed. A few days later her little babies decided that they must go find their own food, since Mom didn’t come home, so they come out of the nest crying.
You find them and start calling people to find out what to do. Some people go online and if they are lucky they find the website called www.ontariowildliferescue.ca where they can find wildlife rehabilitators by the species of animal they rescued and by location. But even then, when you have names and phone numbers, it doesn’t mean that you are going to find a rehabber that will take your orphans. There are so few rehabbers for the number of animals that are orphaned every spring.
After only a few weeks, many rehabbers are full and we have to scramble to help the rescuer find the one rehabber out there that still has room. Eventually however everyone is full, with the species you have. It is very upsetting for the rehabber to tell you that they too are full and the only humane thing you can do with the babies you rescued is put them down.
To put them in the woods on their own, so young, means they would starve to death. Some people refuse to put them down, and they are passionate about these beautiful little babies who they have been feeding and caring for. They decide to raise them instead. So we talk to them about the formula they need. The caging they need. The vet bills they might get. The summer vacation they are not going to be able to take, while they care for the little ones and how big those raccoons are going to get and the mess they are going to make.
It is very difficult to make them understand that they are not doing the animal a favour and that what they are doing is illegal. Oh yes, it is illegal for anyone to have wildlife.
We are Authorized Wildlife Custodians and we volunteer under the Ministry of Natural Resources. We go to conferences to learn how to properly care for these animals while keeping ourselves safe from health issues we can get from them. We learn what they should be fed, which is not the concoction your grandmother made with evaporated milk and eggs. We learn how to occupationally stimulate the animals so they learn what to do when they get back into the wild. We spend the money on proper caging where they can climb and strengthen their muscles before they are released. We put hundreds of hours and dollars – well thousands is sometimes is more realistic – into these orphans. All from our own pockets.
Some of the large wildlife centres who do hundreds of animal in a year have volunteers, boards and charitable status, but the majority of us are backyard rehabbers, doing animals out of our own homes. Some rescuers give some money to help for the care of the orphan they have saved, but most do not.
The same wonderful man, Sandy, in Toronto, who put up the Ontario Wildlife Rescue Website, has also spent many hours putting together a wildlife calendar which we can sell as a fundraiser.
It has beautiful photos of animals from various rehabbers, and a write up on their ‘centre.’ I am quite partial to the month of May which has a beautiful squadron of skunks and a write up about Skunk Haven. That would be me! This particular batch of skunks was named after planes like Wellington, Lancaster, Spitfire, Harvard, Hawker, Mitchell and Hurricane, and travelled in a squadron.
So now that the babies are teenagers and have been sent off to college, we have time to do a little fundraising for ourselves. Since backyard rehabbers can’t offer charity receipts, we are hoping a calendar will suffice for your donation of $10 or more. [I would hate to hold you back if you are feeling generous].
These 2014 calendars would make great presents or stocking stuffers for Christmas or a small hostess gift, or just an I Love You And Wildlife Too gift!
If you are interested, please give me, The Skunk Lady, a call at 519 842 9416, or Donna the Raccoon Lady a call at 519 842 6749 and we will get a calendar to you!