Home » Blog

Wildlife Rehabilitators Operational Guidance for COVID-19

“Coronavirus spike protein structure” by National Institutes of Health (NIH) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The IWRC and our partners have gathered some advice for wildlife rehabilitation operations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation is fluid, and our responses must be agile to align. We will work to update this post as additional guidance and tools become available.

Abbreviations used throughout: Member of the Public – MOP, Personal Protective Equipment – PPE

 

Biosecurity Best Practices

Biosecurity and cleanliness are vital to the prevention of disease transmission. Make sure that you are up to date on recommendations and have protocols in place to safeguard yourself and others.

  • Put public health first and follow government guidelines 
  • Wear personal protective equipment and change it often
  • Don’t allow public out of the car, just transfer the animal and get information by phone or other electronic means
  • Have arrivals come to the center by appointment only, or at least phone ahead
  • Limit volunteers/staff on each shift
  • Check expiration dates and ensure proper dilution of disinfectants
  • Disinfect surfaces at end of each shift
  • Limit use of paper and other fomites (fomites are objects or materials which are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, and furniture)

 

Community Considerations

Community can be one of our most powerful resources in trying times. If you are part of a team, reassure staff and volunteers that their safety is top priority. If you are a home rehabber, or part of a network, communicate via phone or video calls and check in on one another. Let your donors and community know what they can do to help you. If you cannot receive patients take this time to work on development, education projects, or your own well being.

  • Have clear guidelines in place for volunteers and employees. If many of your volunteers are in a high risk category your guidelines may include letting volunteers self-select not to come in because: 1) they are at higher risk 2) they are caring for someone that is sick or of higher risk. Examples of other “adaptive” policies:
    • When volunteers are in the facility only one person can be in a particular area for that day/shift etc and then the area is wiped down. 
    • Volunteers are in teams that do not shift. If Anna and Sally are on a team today—they should be together tomorrow too. Anna should not be with Charles the next day. If someone from the team falls ill, then you replace the entire team. 
  • Reach out to other rehabilitators! 
  • Share resources if you possible
  • If veterinary clinics or other organizations direct people to you for drop off, make sure they are aware of new protocols and can communicate those to MOPs
  • Update your community and donors 

 

Capacity Considerations

Rehabilitators are all too keenly aware that resources are limited. During times of crisis taking space to evaluate and formulate a plan is crucial to continued successful operation. While it may be stressful to consider worst case scenarios, a plan helps mitigate the stress associated with disasters.

  • Do your best to ensure sufficient resources are on hand (people, food, bedding, cleaning, medical supplies). Don’t hoard beyond what you will use.
  • Create alternative plans if critical resources are scarce or missing (eg access to ¼ people, low on food for squirrels, out of euthanasia solution/access to vet)
    • Triaging cases
    • Transferring cases
    • Limiting intakes
  • Consider how many animals can you care for with your current staff/volunteers and resources? What is your plan if intakes increase?
  • Consider what should happen if you become ill? Who is the emergency contact? If you are a single rehabilitator – who will care for the animals?

 

Intake Procedures 

Does the animal actually need to come in? Our pre-intake assessments are more important than ever to avoid patient overload and unnecessary contact. 

  • Normal procedure: Assess the health of the animal during triage exam. Have the member of public wait in a different room; if the animal doesn’t need intake, have them return the animal back to its original location.
  • Adapted procedure: Use cell phone video to assess the animal’s need for intake before the member of public transports the animal.

Intake Information

  • Normal procedure: The member of the public writes information on paper form.
  • Adapted procedure: When the member of public reaches your location have them call or text. They should not leave their car. Text or email them a link to a Google Form version of your intake or obtain that information via phone and transcribe it.

Transfer of animal

  • Normal procedure: Varies
  • Adapted procedure: (Animal Help Now has additional suggestions!) Members of the public should not leave their car, or if walking, the sidewalk. When they reach your location have them call or text. While wearing appropriate PPE,  you pick up the animal transport container (cardboard box best) and bring it into your facility. Thank the person by phone or text.

 

Restrictions on movement

Know your terminology. Shelter in place, self-quarantine, lock-down, essential services – these terms have different interpretations in different jurisdictions. Know what they mean for your jurisdiction. Can you travel between home and work? If not, are you prepared to transfer all animals or have people stay on site?

 

IWRC extends our thanks to the centers that have shared their practices:

Native Songbird Care

RSPCA

St. Melangell’s Small Mammal Sanctuary

 

Keep an eye out for more information – here on our blog and on our social media accounts regarding this unprecedented, developing situation. We will continue to communicate with our partners to bring you the most accurate and useful information regarding COVID-19 and its impacts on the wildlife rehabilitation community.

Stay safe!   

 

How are you doing? Let us know by answering this survey

 

The Cost of Self-Deployment:

Deciding how to help during the Australian Brush Fires (and other similar emergencies) 

Since news of the devastating Australia bush fires broke in late December there has been an outpouring of support as well as a wave of global horror and sorrow. For many, including those involved in wildlife rehabilitation or care, this crisis evokes a strong need to contribute or help the animals affected by the fires. This altruistic urge is not surprising as many people feel a strong connection to the wildlife of Australia because it is so unique, with many species that are imperiled or endangered.  Others have useful skills that are relevant to the situation and this disaster may also be viewed as a rare opportunity to physically do something in the face of more impalpable or seemingly insurmountable problems such as climate breakdown and the extinction crisis. Some have chosen or are considering making the journey to Australia, to offer their support in the form of on-the-ground assistance. While this might be the logical choice for a few, in many cases, and despite the best intentions, this decision may hurt more than it helps. The IWRC urges all of those considering self-deployment to assist with wildlife care in Australia to weigh the cost and benefits of such an action and think about alternative ways to help.

The first costs to consider are monetary ones. According to an article in the Harvard Political Review, “Can Help Hurt?”, the price of volunteering abroad may outweigh the amount of help you are able to provide. The article offers an example of a child care volunteering opportunity in Rio. In this case they calculate that the money spent on three days of volunteering was the equivalent of the cost of 4 months of schooling for one child 1. In many cases, the money a person might pay out for housing, food, insurance, and transportation would go further as a donation. Much of the actual money being spent is paying for the experience of the person volunteering rather than the needs of those they aim to help. 

 Other costs to consider are the environmental ones. This is of particular relevance as the scientific evidence points to climate change as a definitive factor in the severity and scope of these Australian fires.  As stated in an article by Yu, Pei, et al., “The ongoing bushfires (wildfires) have confirmed researchers’ warnings several years ago about increasing bushfires due to climate change in Australia”2. Lecturer in veterinary pathology Dr. Andrew Peters averred, “the most important thing the international community can do, is recognise this for what it is – it is our climate change future, and to take individual and community action now to prevent a much worse future for all of us, including the wildlife that we share this planet with”3. With this in mind, it is important to acknowledge the carbon cost of a flight to Australia as well as the use of currently scarce resources upon arrival. The carbon calculator on myclimate.org estimates that a roundtrip flight from the IWRC office in Oregon to Sydney produces 4.4 tons of C02 per passenger4– that is only slightly less than the average emissions of a passenger vehicle for the entire year of 2019 at 4.63 tons5. Although there may be compelling reasons to get on that plane, we must also decide if doing so coheres with the need to mediate a “climate change future” like Dr. Peters describes. 

The final cost to consider is the potential toll international relief work can have on local populations. In Ilan Kelman and Rachel Dodds’ paper “Developing a Code of Ethics for Disaster Tourism”, they highlight the importance of only offering assistance and donations with the local context in mind. They stress that, “in a disaster-affected location, any additional people further tax a community”6. Kelman and Dodds convey that emergency workers discourage self-deployment because of safety hazards, reduced accountability and because it diverts scarce resources, even when volunteers are qualified to help (282). It is for these and other reasons that organizations such as the Red Cross have created codes of conduct for international or Non-Governmental Organizations in disaster relief situations. The sixth code of conduct item in their document states “All people and communities – even in disaster – possess capacities as well as vulnerabilities. Where possible, we will strengthen these capacities by employing local staff, purchasing local materials and trading with local companies”7

The urge to help those in need, human or animal, is great, particularly for those in fields that require compassion and empathy as wildlife care does. However, we must always ask ourselves, do they need our help? In discussions with IWRC staff, rehabilitators in Australia have repeated that they do not need more volunteers. Instead they need financial aid and encouragement from the global community. The wildlife carers in Australia are facing one of the most devastating wildlife disasters in recent history but they are also knowledgeable about the local wildlife, invested, and already on the ground. With this in mind IWRC recommends that individuals only deploy when invited to ensure that your help is really helping. 

Watching disaster unfold from the “sidelines” can elicit feelings of helplessness, idleness, and even frustration or anger. It is critical, however, to ensure that our efforts to help have the results we intend. Flying to Australia may bring the satisfaction of acting in the face of catastrophe but before booking a plane ticket we must first weigh the monetary, environmental and local costs. In many cases other means of solidarity or aid may be more appropriate. You may consider donating to an organization who is doing work you support. You might also think about how you can support those fighting to protect and save wildlife in Australia on an emotional level— for example you could participate in our letter writing campaign or make a video of support. Finally, you could take action in your own patch of the world to protect wildlife, your local ecosystem or the global biosphere. 

In Solidarity,

The IWRC Staff

 

Works Cited

  1. Brown B. Can Help Hurt? Harvard Political Review. [Internet] MA. 2018 Jun 11. [2020 Jan 10]. available from harvardpolitics.com/online/can-help-hurt/.
  2. Yu P, Xu R, Abramson MJ, Li Shanshan, Guo Y. Bushfires in Australia: a Serious Health Emergency under Climate Change. The Lancet Planetary Health. 2020; 4(1). 2020 Jan 1. [Cited 2020 Jan 10]. Available from doi:10.1016/s2542-5196(19)30267-0
  3. Williams K. IWRC Works to Support to Wildlife Carers Affected by Australian Bushfires. Eugene (OR): IWRC; 2020 Jan 15 [accessed 2020 Feb 12]. available from theiwrc.org/archives/75979.
  4. Calculate and Compensate for Your Emissions! Myclimate. [accessed 2020 Jan 10]. www.myclimate.org/carbon-offset
  5. Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator – Revision History. Washington (DC): Environmental Protection Agency. [accessed 2020 Jan 10]. www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator-revision-history
  6. Kelman I, Dodds R. Developing a Code of Ethics for Disaster Tourism. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters. [Internet] 2009; 27(3)272-296. available from http://ijmed.org/articles/499/
  7. IFRC. The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief. Geneva: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. available from https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/who-we-are/the-movement/code-of-conduct/

 

 

 

IWRC and NWRA Oppose Changes to Migratory Bird Treaty Act

March 6, 2020        

JOINT STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE      

[Eugene, Oregon]

Button saying take actionThe National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) are writing to comment on the scope of Opinion M-37050 (M opinion) proposed by the DOI US Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service). The M opinion on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) interprets the take of a migratory bird, its nest, or eggs that is incidental to another lawful activity as not in violation of the MBTA, and that the MBTA’s criminal provisions do not apply to those activities.

The IWRC and NWRA are international not-for-profit organizations based in the United States, with memberships extending to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and India. Our 2,000+ members include wildlife veterinarians and rehabilitators, wildlife biologists, animal behaviorists, government officials, and academicians from institutions across the world. Our members provide expertise in migratory bird conservation and welfare, often at the forefront of where humans and wild animals interact.

NWRA and the IWRC commend the Service for their work in the delivery of the vision of those who enacted the MBTA. The achievements seen over the past 100 years of guidance by the Service on this foundational bird conservation law are well-documented. The increased numbers and distribution of many species—including snowy egrets, peregrine falcons, California condors, brown pelicans, and Kirtland’s warblers—once threatened with extinction, are success stories of which the Service should be duly proud. The bald eagle is a fine example; a species with a success story that is recognized by every American. The bald eagle has been allowed to recover and recolonize much of its former territory, so that it is now a common sight in many areas where it had once been extirpated.

The benefits from reasonable enforcement of the MBTA have resulted in protections leading to population recovery and benefits for the communities in which these birds live. The Service recognizes the financial benefits provided by wildlife tourism1. Data collected on the economic benefits of wildlife tourism, and birdwatching in particular, show that:

  • 45 million people watch birds around their homes or elsewhere. Wildlife watchers contribute $80 billion to the US economy;
  • Birders spend $41 billion annually on trips and equipment, with local communities benefiting to the tune of $14.9 billion, with 666,000 jobs being created in one year (2011).
  • One example is the $300 million contribution made by wildlife tourism to the Rio Grande Valley economy, leading to economic benefits in terms of income and jobs for the communities in that area.
  • Birds also consume 98% of certain insect pests, resulting in benefits to farming communities.

While wild birds have inherent value, we recognize that they are also an important economic and social driver, engaging people with nature and the environment. The 2009 State of the Bird Report, issued by the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), of which US Fish & Wildlife Service is a report partner, stated that “[B]irds are bellwethers of our natural and cultural health as a nation—they are indicators of the integrity of the environments that provide us with clean air and water, fertile soils, abundant wildlife, and the natural resources on which our economic development depends…It is imperative that we redouble our efforts now, before habitat loss and degradation become even more widespread, intractable, and expensive to solve.2 The 2016 State of the Birds report states that conservation success requires that policies be “…based on sound science” in order to “implement effective on-the-ground conservation actions.3 IWRC and NWRA support these statements.

The proposed changes to the MBTA threaten to undo these important, hard-earned successes. The Service’s long history of minimizing risk to migratory birds through the development of guidelines and best practices has been key to reducing sources of bird mortality. Incidental take through destruction of nesting habitats without the requirement of alternative sites being made available threatens to reduce the breeding success of many species and could result in some extinctions, with long-term ecological consequences. The removal of adult birds and/or nests with young will have welfare impacts for these animals, leading to species declines. 

The destruction of nesting and roosting areas without requiring replacements to be created will likely result in a reduction in sites where these birds can be seen. This will have negative consequences for local community businesses that depend on wildlife tourism and result in a loss of income and jobs in areas where alternative employment is limited.

Wildlife veterinarians and rehabilitators see the direct impact on wildlife populations in our work. The impact to the wildlife rehabilitation community will also be great. The M-opinion has already increased the number of otherwise healthy birds admitted to rehabilitation facilities due to the destruction of nests or roosting areas, such as the 101 young cliff swallows presented to wildlife rehabilitators for care after their nests were destroyed during a single bridge renovation in Wisconsin in the summer of 2019. We anticipate this trend will continue and perhaps further increase as federal executive administration documents show that even voluntary mitigation is being discouraged.

The 2019 State of the Birds report4 records population declines in many species, and the peer-reviewed paper, Decline of the North American Avifauna by Rosenberg, et al,5 shows that declines are not restricted to rare and threatened species—many species once considered common and widespread are also diminished.

The threats birds encounter today—rapid industrialization and habitat loss—are not those faced by birds when the MBTA was adopted. The M-opinion no longer requires bird deaths to be reported to the Service, functionally eliminating the ability to measure the impacts of the rule change. The scale and extent of the impact of the M-opinion will be largely unknown. 

By reducing the protection of our native wild birds, the proposed rulemaking will add to their decline. The role of the Service and the MBTA is to protect the precious resource of wild birds; the M-opinion and its codification into law reverses this protection, placing bird populations at higher risk.

The NWRA and IWRC are opposed to the proposed MBTA rule-making change due to the negative impacts it will have on wild birds, their habitat, and the communities that value birds as a critical natural resource. We ask you to consider these comments as part of the review and we would be happy to discuss this further, if that would be of assistance.

 

 

 

Lisa Smith                                   Adam Grogan

President NWRA                         President IWRC

Button saying take action

 

 

 

References

1  https://www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/bird-watching/valuing-birds.php

2 https://archive.stateofthebirds.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/State_of_the_Birds_2009.pdf

3 https://www.stateofthebirds.org/2016/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SoNAB-ENGLISH-web.pdf

4 https://www.stateofthebirds.org/2019/

5 Rosenberg et al, 2019 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6461/120

 

 

-###-

Media Contacts:

Kai Williams, Executive Director, The IWRC Office:  (866) 871-1869 x1 Email:  director@theiwrc.org 

Lisa Smith, President, NWRA Email: president@nwrawildlife.org

The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

The IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement “We provide evidence-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to move the field of wildlife rehabilitation forward; to promote wildlife conservation and welfare; and to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts worldwide, through better understanding of wild animal ecology, behavior, and welfare.” Wildlife rehabilitation is the act of providing temporary care for injured, sick or orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. By providing unique insights into issues affecting wildlife populations, species, and habitats, wildlife rehabilitation contributes to wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.

 

National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association

The NWRA was born in 1982 at the first National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium in Naperville, Illinois. The rich diversity of expertise and interest represented at the symposium provided a firm foundation for a national organization designed to meet the needs of wildlife rehabilitators. As the mission statement says , NWRA is “dedicated to improving and promoting the profession of wildlife rehabilitation and its contributions to preserving natural ecosystems.”

Spotlight on Max Lipman

Q&A with Max:

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

New barn owl patient

I was very fortunate to have outdoorsy parents. However, until my first internship with a wildlife hospital, I was completely naive to the field of wildlife rehabilitation. When I found out about it, I was instantly intrigued. I always knew I wanted to be a non-domestic veterinary professional, but wasn’t sure how exactly… My internship helped solidify my interest after seeing the diversity, passion, and dedication of the amazing individuals within this field.

 

 

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC’s mission.

During the course of my career, the one thing I’ve enjoyed the most (aside from helping my wildlife patients, of course!) is working with the dedicated people who embody what it means to be an advocate for wildlife – not just on a population scale, but on the individual scale as well. Throughout my career, however, I learned about compassion fatigue and burnout the hard way. Because of this, I have become not only an advocate for excellent, progressive wildlife care, but also an advocate for exemplary ‘people care’ as well. To me, this isn’t just about maintaining positive mental health, but also encouraging camaraderie and collaboration.

 

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

Barn owl receiving an exam

I believe my ability to work and sympathize with others has helped me become a better wildlife professional, given that our work would simply not be possible without the support, collaboration, and dedication of others!

 

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

Early in 2019 I received an amazing opportunity to move from California to Oregon and open a new, state-of-the-art wildlife hospital. Despite having to leave a job I loved, it was quite the unique experience to use what I’ve learned worked (and perhaps most importantly – what didn’t work!) to design a modern wildlife hospital and comprehensive rehabilitation program from the ground up!

 

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

This is a tough question… Part of me wishes I could be a sea otter because watching them dart through the water like flexible torpedos is so fascinating (the great ‘free’ healthcare they’re receiving thanks to the amazing wildlife rehabilitation facilities on the coast is an added bonus) but after seeing how demanding their lives can be in a rapidly changing environment (as well as how they bounce in the waves in combination with my lack of enthusiasm for roller coasters) that’s probably not a great idea… 

 

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

I remember when I first started as a young intern in the field of wildlife rehabilitation… I would be so nervous and excited at what the unique challenges and learning opportunities the next day would bring, I would have difficulty falling asleep. I’m happy to say (after some hard work) I still get that feeling today!

Raccoon under anesthesia

IWRC works to support to wildlife carers affected by Australian bushfires

January 14, 2020        

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE        

[Eugene, Oregon]

As animal lovers across the world collect veterinary supplies to send animal rescue organisations in Australia, the IWRC is working with Gather Voices and the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Council to collect messages of support for those working to rescue wild animals caught in the Australia bush fires.

In the wake of the devastating fires in Australia an outpouring of support has come from the international community. From large scale organizations collecting veterinary supplies, to individuals donating funds to the animal rescue organizations in Australia, support for injured and displaced wildlife has been profound. The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) is lending support by collecting messages of support for those working to rescue wild animals caught in the Australia bush fires.

The IWRC’s President Adam Grogan stated 

We have reached out to wildlife rehabilitators in Australia to offer any support that we can help with at this difficult time. They have replied saying that all messages of support are gratefully welcome. So we are working with local schools in Eugene to provide thank you cards and partnering with Gather Voices to solicit video messages of support. Our members are also working to gather cards globally in order to send as much support as we can.

According to executive director, Kai Williams 

Rehabilitators all over the world have been reaching out to help; people are heartbroken at the images of dead animals and the enormous swaths of land burned. They are looking ahead and realizing this isn’t a short term problem. The after effects of these fires will dictate our Australian colleagues’ work over the next few months and years and the messages or support are necessary to keep them motivated. Remembering that there is all this love for Australian wildlife all over the globe, is a great motivator.

Adam Grogan explains, “We all share a passion and dedication for wild animal welfare and we have felt inspired to stand with wildlife rehabilitators at the other side of the world. Our colleagues in Australia are enormously grateful for the international support and it has helped many of us feel a bit more hope in this dark time.” 

Dr Andrew Peters, a lecturer in veterinary pathology at Charles Sturt University also stresses “It is really really important that the world knows that these fires are not normal. Areas that should only burn once a century are burning again after only 15 years, the scale and intensity of the fires has never been seen before, and even areas of rainforest that have not burnt in more than 1500 years have burnt during this crisis.”

The IWRC urges anyone wanting to help, to donate to one of the many fundraising appeals that have been set up in Australia.

As much as 30% of the koala population on the New South Wales mid-north coast along with 30% of their habitat has been destroyed. There have been similar levels of destruction in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.The destruction of habitats means that not only have many wild animals been displaced, injured or killed in this catastrophe, many more will starve over the next few months due to lack of food and water. It is estimated that one billion animals may have died in wildfires.

Queensland wildlife carer Linda Barret “I believe the next few months will be especially challenging in relation to mass starvation which we have already experienced in flying fox colonies due to drought and which will be compounded by the fires.”

Our thoughts are with those dedicated animal carers battling each day to help rescue and rehabilitate the animal victims of this tragedy.

Dr Peters emphasises “the most important thing the international community can do, is recognise this for what it is – it is our climate change future, and to take individual and community action now to prevent a much worse future for all of us, including the wildlife that we share this planet with.”

#

Notes to Editors:

Readers, please join us or start your own campaign.

How you can help:

Create a video message of support to the wildlife carers in Australia. https://gathervoices.gv-one.com/?gId=1133&rId=3125

Write a letter/card, facilitate a letter writing campaign with youth, or donation cards. More info on our letter campaign

We encourage people to donate to the affected wildlife centers. We’ve compiled a partial list and add to it as we are made aware of fundraisers. However we have not independently verified their qualifications.

Message guidelines:

  • Be encouraging and/or thankful
  • Please stay positive (these people are surrounded by devastation and need a boost!)
  • Address them generally (For example Dear Wildlife Carers in Australia; To our friends in Australia etc.).
  • Add personal touches, have fun, and be creative!

 

-###-

Media Contact: Kai Williams, Executive Director Office:  (866) 871-1869 Email:  director@theiwrc.org 

The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

The IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement “We provide evidence-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to move the field of wildlife rehabilitation forward; to promote wildlife conservation and welfare; and to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts worldwide, through better understanding of wild animal ecology, behavior, and welfare.” Wildlife rehabilitation is the act of providing temporary care for injured, sick or orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. By providing unique insights into issues affecting wildlife populations, species, and habitats, wildlife rehabilitation contributes to wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.

 

Gather Voices

Gather Voices makes it effortless to dramatically increase the amount of video that organizations create and share, with an intuitive set of software solutions that automate the creation, management and publishing of video – plugging seamlessly into existing technology.  Gather Voices’ purpose is to strengthen human relationships for organizations; one video, one community, at a time. Learn more and schedule a demo at www.gathervoices.co

IWRC Australia Letter Writing Campaign

The issue: As you may know, the wildfires in Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia have consumed large areas and devastated local wildlife populations in the millions — with estimates of the animal death toll at over a billion individuals. Wildlife rehabilitators are working tirelessly to triage, aid, and hopefully rehabilitate these animals. This work is challenging because of the sheer volume of animals and limited resources. It is also emotionally overwhelming to see such death and destruction, to lose many patients or not be able to get to animals in time.

 

What can we do?: The IWRC aims to support those on the ground in Australia with a morale boosting campaign. We are soliciting letters from youth (or anyone wishing to participate) to send to the rehabilitators, vets, and wildlife workers in Australia. This is a simple act but one that may make a significant difference for those dealing with this crisis first hand.

 

How you can help:

Write a letter/card, facilitate a letter writing campaign with youth, or donate cards or shipping.

Create a video message of support to the wildlife carers in Australia.

Donate to the affected wildlife centers (list of centers needing support)

Letter writing guidelines:

  •     Be encouraging and/or thankful
  •     Please stay positive (these people are surrounded by devastation and need a boost!)
  •     Address them generally (For example Dear Wildlife rehabilitators in Australia; To our friends in Australia etc.).
  •     Add personal touches, have fun, and be creative!

 

Delivery Instructions: The IWRC will send all physical letters in bulk. If you are located near our office location (anywhere in Eugene Oregon) we may be able to pick them up. Otherwise they can be mailed to PO Box 3197 Eugene, OR 97403. If you have digital items to send please email them to office@theiwrc.org.

 

Delivery times: We will send the first batch of letters on Thursday, January 16th. Thereafter we will send them out on Thursdays, dates TBD.

If you have questions please feel free to email office@theiwrc.org or call 866.871.1869

Australia

There are no words in any human vocabulary to describe the unimaginable horror as Australia burns. There are emotions, deep-stabbing pains of grief, voids and the vacancy of loss, infinite vacuum of pain, but no words. Not one living thing consumed by this hell brought on by human greed and antipathy deserves this fate. I write this now, as my Australian colleagues have much more important things to do. I hope to voice some of their feelings, but I do not speak for them; I understand there is no possibility that I can ever know the pain they suffer.

Looking on the holocaust from afar is devastating. In the field, you put your head down, go to work, do your best and continue on. The personal pain and suffering comes later. From far away, helpless horror and despair takes over. I cannot weep, I cannot rage, I am numb. The tearing rip through my soul does not yet sear.

Rufous scrub-bird illustration (C) P. Latas

I have been an Australiophile since I can remember. On my first trip, the first view from the airport on hitting the soil of this fabulous continent took my breath away. I knew I was there. The airport, the people, the industrial aspect –all familiar–but there were galahs, right there. And magpie larks and noisy miners and funny-looking pigeons with crests. I was entranced and filled with wonder! Of all the places in the world to burn to nothingness, the loss of Australia is unfathomable. It is a continent already at the brink, and so susceptible and fragile to anthropogenic damage. The impact on the unique and ancient flora and fauna is beyond the scope of human understanding. There is nowhere else in the world these ecosystems and organisms exist. The fires are needless, preventable squandering of irreplaceable, priceless treasures. The Earth has been violated and robbed. So fortunate have I been, to have visited for several extended tours in regions that now are visions of hell. I vividly remember that stunning individual bowerbird who is now surely ash and his lovely bower rendered to molecules. I remember the first wild koalas I saw, on Kangaroo Island, smelling of chewed eucalyptus, whose remains now intermingle with the charcoal of their favorite gum trees.

Noisy scrub-bird illustration (C) P. Latas

Reading the news that Kangaroo Island was aflame dropped the bottom out of my heart. I remember Australia: the first goanna, the first mallee trees; the first brown snake; the first bulldog ant; the first voracious leech; I remember them all and I know they are gone, dead in the most horrible fashion. Gone are half a billion wild animals. Half of all animals in Australia. Countless livestock and pets. Indigenous communities, lands and people. Death of entire ecosystems. Death of a continent. Death of biological record so important to evolution and systematics. Death of history.

Australia is the lesson to the world of what is to come. It is not a surprise. In the late 1970’s I was a fresh young college student working in ecological studies, some of which were predicting the course of human impact on global ecosystems. For 50 years humans have known what would happen, yet little was done to change the course of destruction. Governments have refused to acknowledge or implement policy to prevent disaster. Australia is the result. The rest of us are next.

Facebook user Renae Bruce posted this photo of her brother-in-law holding one of the seven koala’s he rescued in the bush after the fire passed in Mallacoota.

As a wildlife veterinarian I know there is little to be done. Skills in euthanasia will be the most valuable at this point. Yet valiant and dedicated people give their all and rescue the animal fire victims, of which each individual will now be more important than ever to any remaining population. Wildlife rehabilitators are always heros; but this is a new level of courage.

How can we help? I know that everyone of you would jump on a plane tomorrow with a bag of supplies, but that is not what our friends and the burn victims need most. 

  • The easiest answer is money – providing money so rehabilitators can buy what they need.
  • Morale support – we are there if needed. Spreading the word, for help and for prevention.
  • Educating ourselves and others about our local ecological regions and how humans fit into our world, and how deeply we damage it. 
  • Advocating for change and awareness. 
  • Being political and outspoken when needed. 
  • Acknowledging the imminent climate crisis and preparing for the impact on our own turf.

 

Be the best wildlife rehabilitator you can be – in the future you will be needed more than ever!

 

Pat Latas, DVM

IWRC Board of Directors

 

Editor’s note: University of Sydney Ecology professor Chris Dickman is estimating 1 billion animals have been killed thus far by the record-breaking wildfires in Australia, as of Jan 8, 2020.

Twitter user @LuckayyLucario maps showing Sep-Dec burned areas comparing 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 using NASA data as of Jan 1, 2020.

 

IF YOU CONTINUE TO SCROLL DOWN, YOU WILL SEE DISTURBING IMAGES OF WILDLIFE AFFECTED BY FIRE

 

 

 

From CentralTelegraph.com.au A young girl looks at the burnt body of dead kangaroo while walking her dog along a scorched property at Mallacoota. Picture: David Caird

 

Facebook user Luke McCrone posted this photo, saying “Just went for a walk along the beach at #Mallacoota literally hundreds of dead birds washing up. The toll these fires has taken on our wildlife is devastating.”

 

On Jan 2, Facebook user Nick Ritar posted the following ten photos taken at Bastion Beach in Mallacoota, Victoria and said:

“Birds of Eastern Australia 2020

1. Kookaburra
2. Rainbow Lorikeet
3. unidentified
4. Top Knot Pigeon
5. unidentified
6. New Holland Honeyeater
7. Whipbird
8. Gang-gang Cockatoo
9. Silvereye
10. Barn Owl

This is what climate change looks like.”

Editors note: specimen identifications were his, and frankly – there’s really no need to publicly speculate or correct them at this point in time. 

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, kookaburra.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, rainbow lorikeet.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, unidentified (pigeon/dove family).

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, topknot pigeon.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, unidentified.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, New Holland honeyeater.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, whipbird.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, gang-gang cockatoo.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, silvereye.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, barn owl.

 

Editors note: The act of compiling this post has been enough shake me to my core. Just like you, I feel utterly devastated and every image actually feels like someone is trying to pull my heart out of my chest. I have cried, wanted to punch someone (preferably a climate denier) and seriously considered screaming into a pillow as a release. But none of those things will help the people and animals that are suffering and I know the only thing I actually can do to help them is to donate. This is yet more reason for me to get back to work on IWRC’s Disaster Preparedness project so that we – all wildlife rehabbers -can all be ready to respond to these events in the future. I’ve lived through several big fire outbreaks here in southern California and I can honestly say that the only thing the local rehabbers needed from the outside rehabbers was money and moral support. So please, choose one or more of the rehab affiliated links that we have listed on this Facebook post and donate. – Brooke Durham   

 

Spotlight on Aya Cockram

Aya joined the IWRC staff on December 2nd, 2019.
You can find short bio’s on each of our staff members here!

Q&A with Aya:Staff member Aya Cockram standing in front of a waterfall.

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

When I was twelve years old my neighbor rescued a baby squirrel from the jaws of her dog. She gave the little one to me and my parents to care for. The process of researching squirrel care, building her an environment, getting to enjoy her presence and then, the bittersweet experience of releasing her had a significant impact on me during a formative moment in my life. It helped me comprehend that wild (or domestic) creatures, and the natural world itself, has an intrinsic value completely distinct from human valuations. At the same time we all live within systems that inextricably connect us. The act of rehabilitating a creature that, hopefully, will never look back upon its release, seems a significant way to respect their value and those systems upon which we all depend. 

 

How did you initially become involved with IWRC?

The first time I encountered the IWRC was through the job posting for my current position. I was immediately drawn to the blend of wildlife protection and education and love the office culture and passion of the employees! 

 

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC’s mission.

I have a great affinity for bioregionalism which, among many other things, asserts that knowing ones bioregion not only allows us to live within our environments in an informed way but also creates a deep sense of belonging to a physical place. This knowledge and sense of belonging is believed to naturally lead to pro-environmental behavior. I view the IWRC’s focus on education and their work to continually build on the field of wildlife rehabilitation as critical for improving the welfare of individual wild animals. However, this educational component also creates an important awareness and an ethic of care that is much needed given the current climate and extinction crises. 

 

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

I am particularly proud of what some of my past students have accomplished. One such student cited my Islam and Nature course as an important factor in her decision to pursue a JD in environmental law. Another student from the Environmental Ethics course I TA-ed went on to become a prominent member of the Sunrise Movement and was very informed by this course as well. These are not my accomplishments but they make me feel incredibly fulfilled and part of something larger. I love working in education because you never know how your work will affect your students, they can go on to do things you yourself could not have imagined. 

 

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?

Aldo Leopold! Leopold is a particularly incredible conservation trailblazer because of the ecocentric view of the world he developed and that he was able to do so long before others came to the same conclusions. Through his writing Leopold is able to uncannily express what I feel but cannot myself put into words. Besides all this, he was a dedicated parent and partner, a knowledgeable forester, scientist, and conservationist!

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise”

– Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 262

IWRC staff member Aya in a red sweater sitting on a dune in sunllight

 

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

While going to school I really enjoyed my research studying Muslim and Islamic environmentalists in Senegal. Although I ultimately don’t see myself as an academic, I still think it would be amazing to continue that research and write a book on the topic.

 

Mindful and Thankful of our Journey for Wildlife

With just a month or so to go before another year closes out, the team at the IWRC have been reflecting on our past couple of years’ accomplishments which are accelerating year on year. Front of mind is that none of our work is possible without the generosity of our supporters around the globe, and equally, that all of our work should be accessible, for all wildlife professionals, around the globe.

 

Sincere thanks to all our members and industry supporters who recognise the value of the education we provide and believe in our mission; to provide evidence-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to move the field of wildlife rehabilitation forward; to promote wildlife conservation and welfare; and to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts worldwide, through the better understanding of wild animal ecology, behavior and welfare. By joining us you help to elevate our organization’s credibility which symbiotically helps us to generate funds to deliver current, relevant and informative education material.  

 

Over the last 2 years we have seen a rise in demand and here are a few wonderful stats over the last few years;

  • 1300 members across 23 countries now utilise our Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation
  • 1495 books ranging from animal behaviour, wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife nutrition, wildlife medical care, wildlife parasitology were delivered to professionals in 2018.
  • 35 classes in basic wildlife rehab, pain and wound management, oil spill volunteering, parasitology, reuniting raptors, and zoonoses were delivered to 885 students in 5 countries.

 

As we move into 2020 we aim to start reaching out to the broader community, those not actively engaged with wildlife on a daily basis yet who are compassionate toward the work we do. Individuals and corporations who care about raising the standards within wildlife rehabilitation and are as excited as we are about making evidenced-based wildlife education accessible to more corners of the globe, for more humans and in turn for more animals.

 

Our field is constantly evolving and we see firsthand how science based information makes positive change for wildlife. We stand firm in supporting the protection and conservation of endangered wildlife and aim to prevent non endangered species from becoming threatened. 

 

Wherever and however you engaged with us this past year, either through taking a course, joining or renewing your membership, approving a grant, signing a cheque, creating a fundraiser, or donating time to volunteer, we thank you for joining us on this journey, as we continue to generate the funds, to improve Wildlife Care Worldwide.  

 

Suzanne Pugh

On behalf of the Development Committee and Board of Directors.

In memory of Gary Bogue, an IWRC founding board member & JWR editor

Image from an old copy of the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation. Copyright IWRC JWR 5(3)

IWRC founding board member and former Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation editor Gary Bogue died at his Bay area home this September at age 81. In December of 1974, Gary, curator at the Alexander Lindsay Junior Museum, was one of eight individuals to sign the articles of incorporation for IWRC, at the time called Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. He had been involved with IWRC since the earliest of board minutes – January 17, 1974, and although I have no records, likely as early as a 1972 consortium of rehabilitators where the gem of IWRC began.

Gary Bogue at the IWRC 1997 symposium banquet

 

In the late 70’s and early 80’s Gary had a column in the Wildlife Journal (Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation). In Fall of 1982 he took over as Journal Editor. By all accounts, Gary was heavily involved with the founding and development of IWRC.

Gary, we are grateful for your passion and perseverance on behalf of wildlife!

 

– Kai Williams, Executive Director

Gary’s sentiments remain unchanged here at IWRC. Copyright IWRC JWR 5(3)