The Thrill of Release

by Jennifer Howard

I have been with Procyon Wildlife for approximately 8 years. Taken in sick or injured foxes, raccoons, skunks, squirrels and opossums. I figured since I’m there as much as I was back then, I may as well become a member of the team. Best thing I ever did. Because with admissions, if later all goes well, then come the releases. I know my fellow volunteers who have done releases will agree that it’s the best part of the whole process. The most rewarding for all the hard work involved by all the caregivers and veterinarians. The day they get to go home.

“Freedom day” can be days, weeks or even months depending on the situation. But it’s always exciting no matter how many releases you have done. And every release, every animal is different. I can’t say that releases don’t come without apprehension. Orphans who have never been in the wild without moms. Some came in so tiny with eyes closed they never were in the wild. They were in the den or nest. Mothers either hit by cars or trapped and relocated. Fathers in species like foxes and coyotes are unable to care for their tiny babies still in the den, and abandon them, if the mother has gone missing. And not without stress I can assure you. These animals are incredible parents, both parents. Then these little ones whom only the mother can raise, cannot survive without her and hopefully will be found in time to save.

Talitha, tiny fox kit, eyes closed was found on a front lawn in the snow in March of 2019.

Squirrels that fly?

by Elizabeth Trickey

Do squirrels fly?  Some would say no, while others would say yes.  The nay-sayers would point out that they don’t even have wings that flap.  They can’t take off from the ground like a bird or airplane, move upwards in the air, nor stay aloft indefinitely.  No feathers, either.  They are mammals, and besides the bat, no other mammals fly.  OK, they are right about those things.  Minor details!  

Here in Ontario, we have both the Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels, also known as “Glaucomys sabrinus” and “Glaucomys volans” to the science geeks! 

At Procyon, we rarely get the opportunity to rehab these species.  This winter, we were excited to receive two of the Southern variety, and, surprisingly enough, they were brought to us separately, two weeks apart, and from different areas.  What’s the chance of that? 

The first flyer to be admitted was a female, which was named Tinkerbell.  She appeared to have been hit by a car, and was in need of medical treatment.  The male was found on someone’s porch, cold and lethargic, somehow separated from his colony.  He is yet to be named.

For the first time EVER for Procyon, we have newborns in January.

Well… this is a first.

On January 25th, we got a call about a woman who found three newborn raccoons in a snowbank. Our phone volunteer was stunned and unsure if this was a prank call.

Sure enough… these three newborns had been dumped in the snow. They were near frozen and lifeless when found. Their rescuer acted fast by bringing them back up to temperature. Amazingly, they survived.

The finder was planning on renting a car today to get them to us, but we decided these babies couldn’t wait. With the help of a volunteer from Ontario Wildlife Transport, they were picked up and were able to be met at a truck stop with our Intern.

It took nearly 3 hours in stopped traffic with no visibility to get them. They are doing well this morning. Safe and warm with full bellies.

Please welcome Frostie, Blizzard, and Snowflake!

If you would like to sponsor one of these baby raccoons, click here.