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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!