By Jennifer Howard
As our wildlife has been forced through habitat loss to coexist with people. We also need to accept that we need to do the same with them.
Every day more development takes over, trees come down, wetlands are filled in along with every living being who calls them home. Although development must go on, we do need to understand that wetlands and trees and all the lives they hold are so very important to our well-being, to our environment, and ecosystem.
We need to fight for more green space. We need to fight for our wildlife. And this is where wildlife rescue comes in.
There are not nearly enough of us, and we are not funded by our government. We run on donations from you, the public and our dedicated volunteers.
Procyon is not fitted with a rescue team. We depend on you to bring us those animals. However our phone volunteers will assist you in how you go about getting a sick or injured animal etc. There are occasions where you can’t do it and we try to get a volunteer to assist. So it’s a good idea to mention that, being mindful they are volunteers and some work or go to school as well. But we do our best to try to get you help.
The big thing is if you get a sick, injured or orphaned animal you need to get them to us right away. You are legally allowed to have them in your possession for 24 hours. After that it is illegal. And penalties if caught can be high. But that aside, every animal has its own special diet, and may need life saving medication, or hydration, to be in an incubator on oxygen. Kept warm. Kept quiet and away from others, see a veterinarian. They may need to be tube fed as any other way they could aspirate. They can die if proper care is not given immediately.
They can also suffer from capture myopathy. A tiny baby is cute, yes. But. They are wild and we are their predator. An injured animal is hurt and scared and in pain. It doesn’t need or want to be petted. It needs to be kept quiet and warm. And to get to us asap. Do not feed and do not give water, call us for instructions. “Oh they let us do it and some seem to enjoy it we are told.” However, no, they don’t enjoy it. Fact is they are scared to death and allow it because they don’t know what else to do, also a sick or injured animal could scratch or bite out of sheer fear. They can actually die from the stress of you handling them like that. We must be very careful of the handling as well. They get handled carefully for medicating and feeding or vet checks only. We wear masks, gloves and gowns. Rabbits and fawns are stressed extremely easily and can die from stress. They get fed by their moms twice a day. They have no scent so leave them be. If you move the babies the mother may not find them. If you need to watch them to be sure nothing has happened to mom, do it from a distance. She will not come if she sees you. For these animals, the best chance is their mother, please, do not kidnap!
This isn’t about us, it’s about a precious life in need. They do not make good pets, they need to stay wild for any chance of survival. If you think keeping a wild animal is kind, think again. It’s cruel. Plus you do not want to get caught or reported. They may not ever be releasable, and they become wild as they grow. They were born wild, it’s critical to their survival that they stay wild. Once you can’t handle them they may attack all humans trying to care for them. May become mean out of the frustration of being “penned up.” What kind of life is it for a wild animal to be closed in, not being able to roam, hunt, mate, climb trees, swim, play with siblings? To be kept with your pets who are their predators? Their fate is euthanasia when you can’t handle them anymore, your pet attacks them or they bite your pet or your child or you. And they can not be released because they do not know how to survive, because you took that skill away from them! The only thing left is will lose their life.
People’s hearts may be in the right place thinking they are helping, when in fact they definitely are not. Wild animals can carry diseases as well. They are not pets. Once a baby raccoon grows up, you do not want it as a pet. It gets mean and it may out of the blue attack. They are destructive and messy, and unreliable, plus their hormones kick in.They are a rabies vector species, if you get a bad bite, it needs attending to, it gets reported, then the animal is ordered put down for rabies testing. Even if it doesn’t have rabies which is usually unlikely. It’s angry because it’s wild. It’s unhappy. This is the harsh truth and reality that we desperately try to get across to people. Leave the rehabbing to us, then they get to go free where they belong to live their beautiful wild life and raise their babies.
Please, do not feed them. We have had calls about foxes and coyotes just recently that have obviously been fed by someone and are causing issues. Remember. They have no idea that they shouldn’t go and take that food. They start to lose that healthy fear of humans, and not all humans are kind. Way too many times a fed coyote becomes a dead coyote because they become dangerously tamed; not everyone wants a fox coming to their door begging for food. You can not control who comes to that food you put out for that cute little opossum or bunny. In fact you may be putting them at risk of becoming prey and it is perfectly normal for predators to take them. They become food conditioned and therefore are not on alert for their predators. Same with squirrels, chipmunks etc., it’s not being kind. It’s the total opposite. They don’t need to be fed. They must stay wild and know how to get natural food. Keep under your feeders clean. We can all live together safely.
If you find a wild animal in need of help, then you call us and we will care for them until they can be released. Not all of our patients make it of course. A wild animal won’t let its guard down until sometimes it’s too late. By doing that they are at risk of being taken by their predators. They are fighters. And remember, our goal is to treat and release them back to the wild. Euthanasia only happens to those whom we can not help, who get worse and when there is nothing more we or our veterinarians can do. But until then, they are monitored, kept warm, quiet, comfortable and pain free and have full tummies. Losing an animal is tough on all of us, but it’s also helping that animal from any more suffering, pain and fear.
Let’s make this a better spring for our wildlife and wildlife centres. Do not trap and relocate an adult wild animal, leaving babies orphaned. The mother will be frantic if you take her from her babies and her home. You might be putting her into another’s territory, where she may end up dead, suffering terribly. Call us and we will walk you through how to make her move her family on her own. Then you can secure your property from others making certain all is clear to do so first. Baby season has already started. Keep your cats in. Do not let dogs run off-leash. Safety for them and our wildlife.
Make that call at 905-729-0033 and leave that message if you see a wild animal you believe is in trouble. A volunteer will get back to you. Let’s learn to coexist and do the right thing by our wildlife. The rewards are endless. And our environment will thank you.
Procyon Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Centre
Enjoy the following gallery of images courtesy of wildlife photographer, Jennifer Howard