Winter at Procyon by Jennifer Howard

Winter is a time when wildlife centres get a bit of a break. Wildlife still comes in sick or injured and of course, some have had to overwinter for various reasons while others come in because their hibernation has been disrupted. Like bats for example. And this year a very tiny little winter guest has arrived; a blue-spotted salamander. It had crawled up somebody’s drain pipe because they put cayenne pepper down the drain to stop mice from coming up. The little salamander was hibernating in there. Okay then!. Meanwhile, this poor little salamander got peppered. Never heard of that one before. Luckily the lady saw it and got it to help. The little dude is doing well after his long ride from the Huntsville area and is in Procyon’s care.

Bats have come in and are spending the winter; we have up to 7 now. Winter this year has been so unpredictable with warm, cold, freezing rain and then cold again. Crazy on wildlife, especially those who hibernate. Crazy on all of us.

Each day, however, is one day closer to spring. One thing we can all agree with is that we are all looking forward to it. On that note, I have noticed frisky squirrels and cardinals singing at my house. A sure sign of spring. Woodpeckers are drumming. Soon there will be more releases of precious lives back into the wild for those who have overwintered, and then the busiest season of orphans, sick and injured will begin.

If you can volunteer please give Procyon a call. We are always in need of volunteers. It’s not easy work but the rewards are endless. If you are not comfortable with handling the animals, there is so much more to do, laundry, dishes, cleaning cages, preparing food and formula. We also need help manning our phone lines.  The list is endless. And all that is a huge help to those caring for the animals. It’s non-stop with hungry cries hungry mouths routine. Shift to shift. So all the other things getting done for them is much appreciated.

When the baby season arrives Procyon will be ready. New cages line the walls, new incubators, new enclosures outside and more planned. Rooms have been reorganized to make it easier to care for the babies. Easy cleaning for cages which is a must to prevent issues. Laundry washed and stacked ready to go, toys for snuggling all clean and waiting. Medical supplies replenished. New outdoor heated water dishes for all. Volunteers already bringing in their applications with training starting in the next couple of weeks.

Soon Easter will be upon us as well, and another fundraiser with none other than the Easter Bunny anxiously awaiting all those furry, scaley, fuzzy whatever pets to come to sit with him for photos. Oh and also the two-legged humans are all welcome, with pets or no pets.  It will be a fun-filled day for all to help raise money for all the care involved in running the centre. This year’s Easter Bunny photoshoot is set for Saturday, March 28th at Rovilis Pet World in Bolton. We will be there from 10 until 3. Watch Procyon’s website and FB page and Rovili’s FB page for all details. We hope to see you there. I think this year we are going to be sporting a new look for our photoshoot. A surprise you will want to be in on.

But for now, we still have animals in our care; some were too young to release last fall and some have come in with injuries such as opossums with frostbitten tails or who were hit by cars. All coming along. Love those little guys.

Bats disturbed and woken up from hibernation, as I have mentioned before, if you find a bat, please put it into a small container with a good sealing lid with air holes, only with gloved hands, never barehanded. Keep them covered and  warm and call your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre. Do not wait. Do not put food or water in. Always call ahead and get it there ASAP. Their lives depend on it.

This is the same with any little animal, injured, sick or orphaned. Do Not keep them and try to care for them. Let the trained folks do it. Again, their lives depend on proper care and special diets. They are cute, yes, but they are not pets, they are wild. And without the proper care and food, they can die. I know I say that a lot but you have no idea how many people think they can do it themselves. Then when things go wrong they call. By then, sometimes we can not help since it’s too late, they suffered and they die coming in on their last legs. It is so sad. All for what? Do the right thing. You will feel so good. And by doing that you may have saved that life, there is no better feeling than that one.

Other animals overwintering are a handful of raccoons, many squirrels who are very entertaining at feeding time and a couple of cottontail rabbits. I think that’s it at the moment. Enough to keep busy. Take a breath and get other things done too.

For those who come in with an animal in need, you will see a brand new entrance. A couple of volunteers have given Procyon a new paint job and an uplift to the inside, new photos adorn the walls. This is what goes on behind the scenes caring for the animals in need. To keep them wild and from getting imprinted, visitors are not allowed. So while you wait for admission look around you at the photos. It’s kind of like your own personal tour right there. We now have a board by the door where special cards and articles go. And please remember to keep voices down. There may be critical care patients nearby. All in a days work in a wildlife rehabilitation centre.

And remember there is a wish list. These are the things they need to keep running smoothly. Procyon has been very fortunate with some of their winter donations but so much is still needed. We are not government funded; we depend on donations big and small. There almost is not enough time in the day for our amazing handyman/volunteer who has done so much getting things fixed, installed and built while there is a lull in wildlife care activity. He is truly dedicated and so much appreciated. I’m not sure the work will never really be finished. But without people like this, it would be extremely difficult to keep up. And every time I go in, there is something else going on or being discussed. Volunteers are the root of a wildlife rehabilitation facility, so if you can or know someone who can help out, please check us out.

Winter is moving right along. So now is the time to make that change in your life and come in and be a part of a team of volunteers who make a difference in many little and big lives.

Give us a call at 905.729.0033, email us at info@procyonwildlife.com or go to www.procyonwildlife.com, located in Beeton or go to http://www.ontariowildliferescue.ca in order to find a wildlife rehabilitation facility nearest you.

You can make a difference. “HELP is in YOUR hands.”

Jen Howard

Procyon volunteer/ photographer.

Winter at Procyon by Jennifer Howard