Sunday, June 8, 2014

185 species

It's been over 4 years since I started getting paid to be a full-time wildlife veteriarian and I'm still loving it.  I often forget how lucky I am to have a career I love....

In 2012, our center admitted over 185 speices, ranging from birds and mammals to amphibians and reptiles. Each of those species has a different life cycle, different diet different habitt, different natural history everything....if we don't replicate these details in captivity as close to nature as we can, we can often have iatrogenic injuries....iatrogenic means that we (the caretakers) caused them.

Monday, January 9, 2012

swans with lead poisoning and early rising bats

This unusually warm winter affects not only humans, but wildlife too. Because more lakes and ponds are remaining open, the swans haven't all migrated yet, choosing to stay if the water isn't frozen. This means the lead poisoned swans are more likely to be noticed and brought to us. Although we currently only have one lead poisoned patient in right now, I'm expecting more will soon join it...

Every winter we get in many bats, like the big brown bat pictured above. They usually are hibernating in a building and wake up early d/t warm house temperatures or are woken up when people find them. It takes a LOT of energy to come out of hibernation, so these guys usually come to us very thin. We fatten them up, and then release them into a gated cave that is known to have a large hibernaculum of big brown bats; we hope they fly into the cave, join the others and re-enter sleep until spring...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Swans, a sandhill crane, a tiger salamander, pelicans

Above is a trumpeter swan under anesthesia. He was shot and part of his wing (ulna) was fractured. Luckily the bone healed with just a wing wrap and he was released into an a fenced in lake so he could strengthen his wing (we don't have flight cages big enough for swans at the center:) Below is him walking down to the lake at release!
Below is a recently admited tiger salamander. It was found late in the fall (should have been in hibernation!). This salamander has a broken arm, a broken leg and metabolic bone disease (calcium deficiency). The injuries are pretty severe--we're supplementing the diet and keeping it on cage rest--there's not much else to do. Splinting the bones would likely be more stressful/painful than just leaving them at this point. We'll see how it does over the winter! (at the bottom of a post is a video of the salamander).
At this time of year we get in a lot of birds with old injuries that were unable to migrate. Below are 2 pelicans that came in last week. Their flock migrated south and they were left on the lake, unable to fly. Volunteers caught them and brought them in. Unfortunately one had an amputated wing tip and the other had a dislocated wrist. Both injuries are irreparable and render these birds unreleasable. It's a sad time of year when we have to humanely euthanize many animals.
Sometimes we are able to "place" unreleasable animals instead of euthanizing. It is rare situations that this is possible and it depends on many factors--we need a place that wants the animal (for education, exhibit or as a foster parent), the animal needs to be able to psychologically able to handle captivity and the injury needs to not cause chronic pain. The sandhill crane below was unable to migrate. He was living near a woman's house with a female and their chick (now a juvenile). The couple had been nesting here for several years now. The woman noticed the wing drooping and observed the bird couldn't fly, but he was too fast of a runner to catch. Soon the birds would need to migrate and I advised the woman to keep an eye on them and to feed them so they would get used to her--if they didn't fear her, she might have enough time to net him. Weeks past and the female and chick refused to migrate w/o the male. Everything was freezing and the family was starving. Long story short, she was able to trap the male in a garage. We went out and captured him. Luckily, a rehab center in Antigo, WI was able to take him to use him as a foster parent for sandhill chicks and one of our volunteers was able to drive him the 4 hours there. The xray below shows bullet and how the wing healed malaligned. He won't be in chronic pain, this rehab center has a large outdoor enclosure he can live in (not a little cage, no visitors to stress him out). So a good ending to this story:)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

head trauma pigeon, spinal flying squirrel, stubborn gull

You wanted cases, so you got 'em!
I wish I had more pics of the above bird. This pigeon came in right after a windy storm. He came in seizuring--I assumed the wind threw him against a building, causing head trauma. We quickly gave medication to to stop the seizures and placed an IV catheter to administer fluids that would draw fluid (and therefore pressure) off the brain. Rarely do we get a patient in so soon after a traumatic incident (so rarely does this treatment work) but in this case, the pigeon was stable by the evening and ready to be released the next day!! yay!!

The above video is a southern flying squirrel. The finders found it in their yard and don't know how it got hurt. You're right--looks like some sort of spinal trauma. and that's what the radiographs (below) revealed. The sharp angle in the spine is a dislocation of the vertebrae:( this patient had to be euthanized.

The video below is a juvenile ring billed gull. He came in when we had a vet student working with us. He had a fracture, which healed well. After that, he refused to fly. The student ran every test in the book, which all came back normal. The student left, so I repeated the tests, and still there were all normal. Turns out, this was just a stubborn gull, who refused to fly for us! He was perfectly healthy:) so we started "creancing" him (see video) where you essentially have him on a rope and get him to fly for exercise. After a few weeks of this, he was released just in time for migration:)

Saturday, July 23, 2011


It's been a busy June-in fact this June was our second busiest month in history! Over 2000 animals have been admitted--Whew! Most babies of all sorts (proabably 1000+ babies in our nurseries right now!) above is a juvenile raccoon in a tree right after he was released:)
We also get a lot of turtles in this time of year. ~40 are in house right now for shell fractures. Turtles are trying to get to the perfect area to lay their eggs--this often entails crossing roads, and you know what happens from there. Although I really don't know how someone "didn't see" a 40 lb snapping turtle crossing the road; it's not like he darted out in front of you.

What do you want to hear about in the next post?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Springtime is here!

We're up to our chins in baby animals! Baby songbirds, baby mallards, baby cottontails, baby squirrels, baby raccoons, baby geese baby everything!!
Above are some bunnies raised in our nurseries, ready for release. Bunnies are ready for release at 21 days old--they are only the size of a woman's fist! If you find bunnies in your yard in a nest, leave them there (you'll never see the mom so don't worry), leash you dog for 2 weeks and they'll be gone:)

Above is a baby goose. Contrary to almost all other babies, if you find a baby goose or mallard by itself, it's likely orphaned and you should bring it in to a wildlife rehabilitation center.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great blue heron chicks

Yesterday was the busiest day yet this year. We admitted 104 animals--I was there until 11 pm (3 hours after my shift was supposed to end, making a 13 hour day:) but it was ended admitting these awesome birds (pictured).

Many great blue heron pairs lay their eggs in one area called a "rookery" and care for the chicks together. This past weekend, the huge storms destroyed a large rookery, killing many herons and scattering the chicks. Thus, we received 7 great blue heron chicks last night.