Celebrating the wildlife releases of the PAWS Wildlife Center
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by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
Over 5,000 injured, orphaned, ill or displaced animals are received each year by the PAWS Wildlife Department. In the last installment of Wild Again I gave a brief overview of the rehabilitation process that these animals undergo during their time at the PAWS Wildlife Center. Although the article gave insight into what happens to wild animals after they are placed in PAWS' care, it did not give an explanation as to why these animals are brought to PAWS in the first place. Since this is a very important piece of the puzzle, I will use this week's installment to discuss some of the most common causes of injury that we see in our wild patients.
Watch volunteers from Team Depot as they help both wildlife and shelter animals from PAWS.
One of the most frequently encountered causes for admission of wild animals is also one of the most preventable. On average, 15% of the animals that PAWS treats annually are injured by domestic cats. Even the most well-fed house cat still retains a very strong instinct to hunt. If a cat is allowed outside, it is very likely that the local bird and small mammal population will become the unwitting victims of this instinct. The wild animals of North America have never had to deal with a small, agile predator such as the domestic cat and they are therefore highly susceptible to cat predation. By some estimates, domestic cats kill hundreds of millions of wild birds and small mammals nationwide each year. Keeping your cat indoors or in an enclosure while outside will have a direct beneficial effect on the wildlife in your area. For more information, read the "Cats and Wildlife" fact sheet on the PAWS Website at: www.paws.org/work/factsheet/wildlifefactsheets/catsandwildlife.html.
This juvenile American Robin was admitted to PAWS after it was attacked by a domestic cat.
Another, thankfully less common, cause for admission at the PAWS Wildlife Center is deliberate harm. Each year a number of animals are admitted with air rifle BB's and pellets, bullets, arrows, and other projectiles embedded in their bodies. Occasionally we receive animals that have been hit by rocks that were thrown at them or have suffered other miscellaneous acts of cruelty. As I write this, the PAWS Wildlife Department is treating a bald eagle, an osprey and a Canada goose, all of which are recovering from gunshot wounds.
Countless additional animals are admitted to the PAWS wildlife center for a variety of other reasons. Many are hit by cars, entangled in fishing line or other material, or affected by chemicals such as oil or pesticides. We receive birds of prey that have either collided with or been electrocuted by high voltage power lines.
This Osprey is currently in PAWS' care recovering from gunshot wounds.
The list of possibilities truly is endless and you never really can be certain what will come through the door on any given day. Just when you think you have seen it all, someone brings in an animal that has been injured by something that up until that point seemed to be completely harmless. It always serves to remind me that wild animals have a much different sense of the world than we do and we should not expect them to be able to automatically adjust to all of the strange new things we introduce into their environment. If it is unfamiliar to them and there is the slightest possibility that they can be injured by it, they likely will be. It is up to us to try to determine ahead of time what those possibilities for injury may be. If we don't, the animals will point them out to us in the worst possible way…
Wildlife Release tally: August 7 to August 20, 2002
Wildlife Release tally: 2002 Year to Date
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