A guide to record keeping options
Record keeping is a fact of life. Every job from police officer to tax accountant requires a certain level of documentation for proper functioning, legal purposes, and record keeping. Wildlife rehabilitation is no exception; our records provide data on what treatments are needed for a specific animal, how that animal has fared over time, and the medical-legal outcome of each case. I remember as a teen being enlisted to enter each year’s worth of intake sheets into an Excel program. Tedious for sure, but quite amazing once all that data was entered and we suddenly saw that 70% of our waterfowl came from Oshkosh or that the number of squirrels with pox had greatly decreased in Menasha.
Fortunately today there are many documentation options, from web based solutions (WILD-ONe, Wildlife Rehabilitation MD), software options (RAVEN, RaptorMed), and state-run databases (Wisconsin), to Excel documents, and the traditional pen and paper. What to choose? Well, it depends entirely on what level of technology you are comfortable with and what your situation is. Here are some of the common options, their benefits, and contact information so you can research further. Note that most of the developed options are made in North America. However, several are either currently useable worldwide or are working to become useable worldwide. Be sure to check with the developer before dismissing an option as “not for my geographic area”!
Cloud (Web) Solutions
Cloud solutions, sometimes called software as a service (SAS), provide an off-site database for collection and analysis of rehabilitation data. This option has several benefits. For example, most cloud databases include back-up security; automatic back ups make the loss of your data less likely. In addition, other benefits include the ability to easily run analytics (e.g. how to determine what was the major cause of intake in raccoons this year), low cost or free to the user, ease of version updating, and the ability to add information about a specific animal after intake to track its care. The major downside is the need to have a reliable internet connection to use the product. These web-based solutions don’t work when your internet is down. A few cloud solution are listed below.
WILD-ONe – Free
Visit http://wildlifecenter.org/wild-one to learn more or sign up
Wildlife Rehabilitation MD - Free
Visit http://wrmd.org/ to learn more or sign up
State databases are a cloud-based service, similar to the web products described above. A major difference is that registration is limited to people in that state or region. The obvious benefit is that it’s created by the regulatory body, so there is no delay in it keeping up to date with regulation changes.
Software solutions, like the web-based options, are out of the box (RAVEN) or developer customized (RaptorMed) programs for the collection and analysis of rehabilitation data. Benefits include not needing an internet connection, ability to easily run analytics, ability to track finances as well as animal care, and a more reliable and easier to reference system than the old pen and paper. Further, you are not recreating everything from scratch like in Excel! On the downside, software generally has a cost involved and updating to a new version may involve more work than cloud systems, although most developers offer highly discounted new versions to customers with an older edition.
RaptorMed – $2500 – $5000 (tailored to organization) More information is available on the website http://www.raptormed.com
Excel and other spreadsheet programs provide rehabilitators with an electronic way to track their data. The complexity and ease of use depends entirely on the ability of the operator; this can be used as anything from your primary method of keeping data on animals in care to an end of year project to look at macro level data and compile governmental report data. Excel is something most computer users already own and basic use is quite simple. However, advanced use can quickly become complex. Analytics need some understanding of chart and graph creation at a minimum, if not formal statistical training.
Pen and Paper
Ah, the old pen and paper; the classic method of tracking data. The upside? It’s amazingly portable (unless you are lucky enough to have an iPad you can carry around) and each file can stay with the animal while it’s in care, making excuses of not updating the charts nil. Further, it is a common technology, so volunteers will be comfortable with its use. Downsides include relatively more easily lost and destroyed documents, disorganization, lack of a central collection system to allow for easy analytics and search for past information. In my opinion the biggest downside of this method is that you cannot quickly and easily learn from the past (e.g. did that new antibiotic your vet prescribed increase your cat-attacked songbird survival rate?).
There are many options out there, and no one option is everything to all people. Evaluate your needs, and then choose a system based on how you plan to use it. That is the best way to ensure you have a good fit.
Have you had experiences with a system? Share with other rehabilitators by posting comments below.
We are pleased to announce the new board members voted in by the membership in December of 2012. Continuing board members Brenda Harms and Melissa Matassa-Stone were also voted to the board. But for the moment, lets concentrate on our three new members.
Kristen Heitman is a full-time bird and mammal. rehabilitator, specializing in waterfowl. Her passionate connection to this field began in 1999 and in 2002 she founded the non-profit, Providence Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc., and continues as their director. With Providence’s 13 education birds, Kristen and her staff provide outreach conservation programs across Indiana.
Kristen took the 1AB Basic Wildlife course in 2005 and became a CWR in March 2007. Kristen has been a board member, Communications Chair, and newsletter editor for IWREN (Indiana Wildlife Rehabilitators and Educators Network).
Kristen is guided by a strong commitment to furthering the mission and goals of the IWRC, to promoting the organization and its members to even greater excellence. She relays her passion through extreme dedication and tenacity, and would like to lend her detail-oriented organizational skills toward these ends.
Steve’s professional career spans 40 years of public service, including service in the United States Army and a 30 year career in law enforcement. An avid fisherman and hunter, wildlife has been an important part of his life since early childhood. With his wife’s encouragement, both began rehabilitating birds at Wild Bird Rescue, Inc. in Wichita Falls, Texas. Steve attended Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation in Houston, Texas, and later attained his Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator credential. He served on the Board of Directors for WBR and was instrumental in the success of several fundraising activities, as well as the wildscaping and beautification of the facilities. He is a member of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, a life member of the Sierra Club, an Associate Member of the John Muir Society, and a member of the Audubon Society.
Steve envisions IWRC moving forward by broadening its participation in wildlife conservation and preservation through mutual cooperation with similarly minded organizations. He wants to stimulate interest and increase new membership in IWRC. He foresees the IWRC serving as a clearinghouse for knowledge between experienced wildlife rehabilitators and the scientific community with the goal of assuring wildlife their place in the circle of life.
Amanda Cyr currently resides in Wausau, Wisconsin where she serves as the wildlife rehabilitation/captive wildlife liaison for the State of Wisconsin. She has a bachelor’s of science degree in biology with minors in captive wildlife management and conservation biology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, and a master’s degree in wildlife also from UW Stevens Point. Amanda discovered wildlife rehabilitation as an undergraduate student, and since then she has found numerous ways to stay involved in this field. She started as an intern one summer, which led to future internships, volunteering, and other employment opportunities in wildlife rehabilitation. In addition to wildlife rehabilitation, Amanda is particularly interested in studying wildlife health and disease. She strives to work within the wildlife rehabilitation community to promote networking and collaboration, encourage continuing education, and support research opportunities. She believes teamwork is an important key to success, and aspires to be a part of that team and encourage others to also promote and protect wildlife conservation.
In the US, it’s fairly common to see whitetailed and blacktailed deer, coyotes, and all sorts of mesopredators in and around the city. A recent National Geographic article mentioned the increased urban appearance of apex predators like cougars. The article made me think “what does this mean for rehab”? My only experience with an apex in the city had a tragic end. It was a timber wolf that was shot for being too close to a mall. How can rehabilitators assist in preventing human wildlife conflict with this new influx of predators?
Here are some thoughts from IWRC members:
Ned Bruha: The article in Nat Geo, just like their TV programming, is following suit with so many others who have the power to help instead of hinder animals. They have found that If they talk about, film, and add drama to wildlife dilemmas, they make more money. Wildlife and larger predators will always adapt and overcome. If you feed them, they will come.
Rehabilitators will continue to do gratis rehabilitation to “nuisance” and federally protected animals with personal and donated money, while the state and fed wildlife dollars will continue to go towards anything but helping wildlife that is in true need of rehabilitation. Because of this, it is even more important to screen calls to see if animals truly do need a rehabber’s assistance… those first 3 young raccoons sure look cute and inviting in the spring, but how much time and money can you save by explaining to the caller how to keep them with their real mother? The same goes with calls from people afraid about larger predators. Many times, they are raiding garbage cans, hunting at bird feeders and eating pet food left outdoors along with the cat or dog at the outdoor food bowl – often times, these are avoidable situations.
Kevin Bertoli: There is no way we can stop the influx of wild animals into our neighborhoods, short of our own retreat from THEIR habitat. I don’t see that happening, so it is inevitable that they will continue to be destroyed. Rehabbers can assist in slowing this process if they work in conjunction with their local Wildlife Officers and assist in either notifying them, or working with local law enforcement to quickly incorporate sedation and humane removal when a threat arises. This would mean organizing local vets, animal control, wildlife officials and those able to keep the necessary drugs and equipment on hand ready for immediate response.
By guest blogger Randie Segal
Randie, Lynn, and Diane are in Europe visiting rehabilitation centers, attending conferences, and in between Lynn has managed to squeeze in time to teach not one, but three IWRC courses. Join us for the next few weeks as Randie tours us around Ireland, Great Britain, Poland, and Belgium.
We all arrived in London , went through customs, and didn’t get into any trouble
We took a taxi and came to our hotel
Went out to a little family Italian restaurant and had a great time
Lynn told them we were going out looking for guys and asked them for tips. They said they would take us out dancing all night.
We went to a bar named Millers in Lynn’s honor
Diane had her first Guinness in England, Lynn had Scotch and I had a Jameson’s
Back in our room we are all unwinding from our day of travel.
Tomorrow we go on a bus tour. It is supposed to rain all day. We are in LONDON
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and looked forward to staying in touch
By Sam Williams – reposted with author permission from Word Parrot Trust
A few Mondays ago we got a call that another parrot had bounced off a car. Normally we’d expect a parakeet, a broken wing or both but this call came from Jim and Jane who sponsor Echo so it was definitely going to be a parrot. Sam headed over but was still in for a surprise. It was an unweaned parrot chick who had had a lucky escape, he was knocked about but otherwise ok. Except he had lost his parents. The story has a happy ending so do read on. Jane has given us permission to share her nice email and she tells the story well:
“On Monday evening after you left, when the parrots came through on the way back to the roost two of them stopped in the tree out front. Junior was on the wall in the carrier and we opened the door to it hoping their chatter would cause him to talk back and maybe fly to them. He was still very frightened and I think Mom and Dad were a bit intimidated by the carrier. They moved on back to the roost. We put Junior to bed once the sun went down, he could barely keep his eyes open he was so exhausted from all the “trauma” I think.
So then as you suggested we got up about 15 minutes before sunrise on Tuesday and sat on the porch with Junior in the carrier waiting to hear the group of parrots that usually come through. We first heard them about 6:30 and Jim put Junior back on the wall. BUT…this time we had the idea to take the entire top off the carrier, it was then just essentially an open box, as we thought this would be a little less fearsome for Mom and Dad and for Junior too (particularly if they could sense that Junior was in a CAT CARRIER!!!) Even with the top off, Junior was still all huddled in a corner of it. AND THEN, within about 5 minutes Mom and Dad showed up in the same tree out front and started talking. Junior’s head popped up over the side of the box, he gave a little shout. Mom and Dad started talking louder and Junior hopped up onto the edge of the box and answered. Next thing you know he flew to them and the three of them flew off together after a quick burst of what I like to think of as “thank you”. It was just delightful to see them reunited.
They teach children in the U.S. that if you lose your Mom and Dad you should always go back to the place that you last saw them because that is where they will look for you. I guess the same lesson is taught to Bonaire parrot children too!
Thanks again for all your assistance and advice in facilitating this happy reunion.”
Sam works with ECHO. Please check out the wonderful work they do on Bonaire!
We all have that one instance or person who got us involved in wildlife rehabilitation. Let’s take a moment today to celebrate them; whether it was a person, a situation, or a single warbler. For Karen, that person was Di Conger. The rehab community is saddened by Di’s recent death. Let us remember all of the animals who went back into the wild due to Di’s care, and all of the people she influenced in her life. Di did not want an obituary, so instead Karen has offered to share her story of jumping into rehab.
Update 8/21/12: A memorial will be held for Di in Maryland. Dates are currently being decided upon (Sept 29, Oct 13, or Oct 20) If you have an opinion on the date email Roxy at email@example.com
I first met Di in 1994. I was working as an officer manager at an Invisible Fence dealership and Di was one of our clients. Our work crews always referred to her as the “squirrel lady” because she always seemed to have a kazillion of them either in her house or in her pre-release cages. I had talked to her many times on the phone but didn’t meet her in person until the spring of 1994 when we had a huge old tree cut down outside the corner of our old farmhouse. The tree was so big and old I couldn’t put my arms a fourth of the way around the trunk! Sure enough, when a main branch was cut – the workers cut right through a squirrel’s nest full of tiny pinkies. They had no way of knowing it was there! One baby was killed and two more fell a LONG way to the ground. We put some of the nest material around the base of the tree, put the two little ones down and went in the house to watch. Momma squirrel picked up one of the babies immediately and took it somewhere else. She picked up the second one several times, turned her every which way and cleaned her thoroughly, and then left – and never came back. PANIC TIME!!!! I remembered talking to “squirrel lady” at work and immediately called Di! She was so packed she couldn’t take another squirrel — but immediately told me exactly what to do and arrived about an hour later with an incubator, formula, and everything I needed to raise my little girl! Next thing I knew, I was on Di’s Board of Directors!
By Karen Tannenbaum
Karen is a California rehabilitator who usually volunteers at the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in the US but is spending the summer as a volunteer at an Israeli wildlife rehabilitation and education center, Hai Bar Yotvata. Since IWRC currently has no Israeli members (hopefully we will soon) I thought the membership would be interested in the current state of rehabilitation in the country. Regardless of where we are, we always regard our animals and practices as normal, be that kangaroos and possums, raccoons and redtails, or pandas and cincerous vultures. By sharing each others “normal” we learn things that benefit us all.
Today I spent some time with the resident reptiles of the Hai Bar. My supervisor drove by me as I was cleaning the outside of the poisonous snake terrariums, and instructed me to jump in the front seat of his truck. He had an Arabian Horned Viper in a tank in the back seat and was on his way to release the snake. We drove out to a reserve in Elifaz, about fifteen minutes from Hai Bar, and I got to witness the release of the beautiful, side-winding serpent. I kept a safe distance, as the snake seemed to have completely disappeared from sight in a matter of seconds following his release. I returned to the snake enclosures after the release and upon approaching the cages I noticed a wild, loose snake sitting right on top of a viper’s terrarium. My presence startled the snake as it slithered away through the rocks near the enclosure. By examining the pictures, I assume this was an Egyptian Sand-Racer. I was also lucky enough to catch a picture of a sunbathing gecko. In summation, my day was essentially dedicated to the reptiles of the Arava.
About three and a half days ago, there was an on-site birth of three Wild Cat kittens at the Hai Bar. One, unfortunately, had been neglected by her mother for over an hour and was confiscated by the Hai Bar staff for hand feeding. I was given the opportunity to watch one of her feedings. She was too adorable…I was left speechless. Hopefully she will make a promising animal ambassador for the Hai Bar’s educational sector.
Tonight we had a staff barbeque. After the festivities I was invited to attend a night feeding for the predators of the Hai Bar. Photographing was difficult, but what was even more difficult was making sure all of the predators were in sight before continuing with the feeding (of course, we never entered the enclosures for the larger predators). Namely, the elusive cheetah had us searching for at least 10 minutes before we found her sitting only 5 feet away from us! The best part of the night was hearing the Barn Owls’ screech. They sound marvelously pre-historic; they definitely count as one of my favorite inhabitants of the Hai Bar.
Today was my last (and also most incredible) day of work so far at the Hai Bar. I was invited to attend an annual Dorcas Gazelle count administered by workers of the wildlife reserves in Southern Israel. We had to be out of the apartment by 4:30 AM and were picked up by our supervisor, Zohar. He took us to the meeting point, where about 15 wildlife reserve trucks manned by park rangers congregated to begin the gazelle count. Here’s how it works: the 15 cars line up horizontally at the start of a territory in the Arava. Each truck is equidistant apart, about 100 feet. A note taker is seated in the passenger seat, and is in charge of keeping tally of the sex and number of gazelles. The drivers all move at the same pace through the territory and the drivers keep in contact by use of walkie-talkies. As soon as gazelles are spotted, the truck’s neighboring drivers are notified. The gazelles are then counted as they run between the cars, and the driver (in our case) reports how many males/females there are in the group. Everyone in the truck participates in trying to count each gazelle that passes the car. The experience was completely unmatched. Everyone worked as a team. The resident wildlife ecologist (one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met) gave us the final tally of 226 gazelles! While this was a slight decrease from last year, it was a satisfactory number overall. Our truck counted around 29 gazelles. After the gazelle count, our driver (Gil, a park ranger for a neighboring territory) took us to visit the salt channels–home to numerous birds, including flamingos! The other volunteers and I had a blast taking pictures of the resident sea birds of Israel. I could not have possibly had a better final day of work here at the Hai Bar.
Here is an interesting paper for those of you dealing with avian patients. The study was presented at the 2011 Conference of the European Association of Avian Veterinarians.
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A clinical trial of 162 captive birds of prey with poxvirus took place between 2008 and 2010. The Poxvirus infection was diagnosed by histopathology and PCR procedure. Booster Concentrate® was administered orally in the food daily for 30-65 days. All the birds recovered from the infection uneventfully within 15-65. Clinical followup a year later shows new poxvirus cases continue to respond to Booster Concentrate.
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The following is adapted from:
“Medical Treatment of Avipoxvirus Infections in Birds of Prey”
M. García Montijano*, LV, J. García de la Fuente,** LV, I. Luaces,*** LV,
B. Palomares,* LV
* Hospital de Rapaces Altai, Torrelaguna, Madrid, Spain
** 2 Roc Falcon S.L., Lleida, Spain
*** Gir diagnostics S.L.P.
Poxviruses are double-stranded DNA enveloped viruses that infect a wide spectrum of animals. Poxvirus infections in birds are caused by a large avipoxvirus. This infection (mostly dry form) is seen more frequently and considered common in falconry birds in Europe and Middle East. Until now most of the treatment options were surgical. Most birds died or were so disfigured they were euthanized.
One hundred sixty-two captive birds of prey of 10 species and their hybrids were included in this clinical trial, which took place between 2008 and 2010 in Spain. Birds were presented to a private raptor hospital or were captive bred at a large commercial breeding center. Booster Concentrate® was administered orally in the food daily for 30 days in 148 birds and to a maximum of 65 days to the rest. Blood was obtained from these birds and processed and tested according to a protocol, before and after the treatment. Poxvirus infection was diagnosed by histopathology and PCR procedure.
All the birds recovered from the infection uneventfully. Most of the small lesions disappeared within 15 days, and from 30 to 65 days were needed for the more complicated diphtheritic and cutaneous clinical cases.
The antiviral action attributed to Booster Concentrate® results from its ability to fluidize the lipids and phospholipids in the envelope of the virus, causing the disintegration of the microbial membrane. Booster Concentrate® also interferes with virus assembly and viral maturation (HORNUNG et al. 1994).
Clinical followup a year later in these facilities shows the product is still successful, as new poxvirus cases continue to respond to Booster Concentrate®.
Click here to download the full manuscript.
By Karen Tannenbaum
These last few working days I learned more about the Common Tortoise breeding/rehabilitation program, one of the Hai Bar’s most successful projects. My responsibilities now include maintaining enclosures for the youngest tortoises on the reserve, one of the red foxes, raptors in recovery cages, a few recovering small mammals, the nightjars, and (of course) the fruit bats. I worked on setting up a new, larger enclosure for the nightjars as well as a new enclosure for recovering raptors. I was allowed complete creative license to arrange the cages and fit them with new branches that I hunted for in the surrounding desert area. For the nightjars, I found larger, flat branches to allow them to sit naturally alongside the branch rather than across it (typical for nightjars). A major consideration when working in the desert is temperature control. In heat that reaches 120 degrees it’s imperative to think of ways to keep enclosures cool. To alleviate these concerns, I shielded the cages in layers of light, breathable cloth and included hollowed out rocks for shade.
Also, I found some more bat babies this week! It’s been so delightful watching the babies begin to leave their mothers and start flying on their own. Too cute.
I was invited to a staff BBQ tonight and afterward I was given the opportunity to observe and assist during the night feeding for the predators at the Hai Bar. Upon entering a fox cage, I noticed a rather large creature scurrying across the sand in front of me. Upon further investigation, I discovered that this creature was actually a gigantic, frightening camel spider. Not going to lie, until this point I was pretty sure that these animals were a total myth. False. They definitely exist, and this one definitely petrified me. Eek!
Today, a Dag lizard was released. While I did not have the opportunity to join in on the release, I did have the pleasure of assisting in maintaining the prehistoric-looking lizard’s enclosure for his stay up until his release. This is what I love about working in wildlife rehabilitation. While it can be poignant to not see an animal that you become used to caring for each shift, it is rewarding to know that they are returned their rightful place in the wild. Good luck, lizard!
Today, two pelicans were brought to the reserve for rehabilitation. Pelicans! Finally, an animal I’m used to working with. A Great White Pelican was the first to arrive, followed soon after by a Pink-backed Pelican. The managers at the Hai Bar were aware that I regularly volunteer at the Wetland and Wildlife Care Center, and as such invited me to a private meeting to discuss the pelican habitat. I explained the WWCC’s “peli-pen” set-up and the managers gave me a leading role in setting up the pelican enclosure and allowed me to spend my day observing and reporting the birds’ behavior and food intake. My most pressing concern was keeping them misted to avoid overheating in treacherously hot weather and making sure they have fresh, cool water. Additionally, I was invited to accompany the director of the Hai Bar on the drive to Tel Aviv to transfer the pelicans to an animal hospital. While I felt honored to be trusted with care of the pelicans, I also became especially homesick for the WWCC!
Now I get to spend a few days enjoying Tel Aviv before heading back to the desert. :)