Feathers, Native Culture, and Rehabilitation

 

By Katie McInnis DVM

As wildlife rehabilitators we all know the value of feathers to birds. Thermoregulation, communication, and mobility are just a few ways birds utilize their feathers. But what about when a bird no longer needs those feathers? What purpose can they serve? For some, imping is an excellent use of feathers, as is utilizing them for research or educational purposes. While these options have great merit, most feathers that end up being saved are eagle feathers, in the US the majority of which end up at the National Eagle Repository.

Variegated eagle feather

The National Eagle Repository is a government sanctioned collection site for both bald and golden eagle carcasses and feathers. With the inception of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other wildlife protection laws, US Native Americans lost the right to possess and utilize feathers that they required for important cultural and religious purposes. For decades USFWS tried to come up with solutions, but even with the establishment of the National Eagle Repository the process of just getting a single feather was slow and laborious. In 1990 the Pueblo of Zuni made a bold but sensible proposition. Wildlife rehabilitators were often faced with the challenge of what to do with non-releasable eagles. The Zuni proposed the creation of a long term care facility where the birds could live out their lives, well cared for, while providing molted feathers to native people. With the institution of the Native American Eagle Aviary Permit, native communities were able to benefit not only from molted feathers, but from the pride and satisfaction of caring for eagles that still have a good quality of life despite having disabilities that make them unreleasable.

In Perkins, Oklahoma Megan Judkins spends many hours working with eagles and their feathers. Megan works at the Grey Snow Eagle House, a rehabilitation and long term care facility for eagles that is run by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. While their primary focus is caring for their eagle population, they also rehabilitate eagles from Oklahoma, provide educational programs, and are working in collaboration with Oklahoma State on genomic research of bald and golden eagles. Although these things keep them busy, their main focus is the health and well being of the eagles. Eagles are screened carefully before being allowed to enter long term care, and once in the program they are given bi-annual veterinary exams, multiple forms of enrichment and are carefully monitored to ensure they have the best quality of life possible.

Megan says that while many people think Grey Snow Eagle House (GSEH) opened specifically to provide feathers for the Iowa Nation this is actually a misconception. “The GSEH opened because while eagles play pivotal roles in all Native cultures, for the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma the eagle is viewed as the only living creature that has seen the face of the creator. The eagle also assists the tribal members by carrying their prayers to the creator. So, by rehabilitating injured eagles and releasing them back into the wild, the tribe believes that these birds will continue to help their tribal members by carrying their prayers. In addition, by providing high quality homes to the eagles that cannot be released back to the wild, the tribe is saying thank you to the species for helping the tribe through the generations. Finally, by participating in research collaborations, we are ensuring bald and golden eagles persist through future generations.”

To learn more about the Grey Snow Eagle House you can visit their website here: http://eagles.iowanation.org/ But why visit online when you can visit in person! Grey Snow Eagle House will be hosting the IWRC Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Class December 1-2, 2017. There are still a few spots available so sign up today!

Tidbits from board member Brenda Harms

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

My mother always tried to save the birds our cat caught (this was back in the stone age).  She’d feed them white bread soaked in milk and keep them in a shoebox (well, at least she got the shoebox right!).  Not a single one ever survived and she cried every time one would die.  I learned from her that humans are responsible for the creatures in our midst, and we need to try our hardest to do right by them.  My mother would have become a wildlife rehabber if the opportunity had been available and then, perhaps, some of those birds would have survived.   

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

I’ve always been involved with the nonprofits in the town I live in.  Once my children got older, I became interested in learning more about nonprofit governance and fundraising and even took some fundraising classes.  When my teenage daughter saw a Dawn commercial that featured Tri State Bird Rescue, I found myself traveling to Delaware with her to take Tri State’s oiled bird course.  It was there that I first met people who were wildlife rehabbers.  An internet search led me to IWRC’s Virginia Beach Symposium in 2009.  At a symposium roundtable, I shared my desire to combine my law degree and interests in nonprofits with my love for wildlife, and before I could say “Jack Rabbit,” I was on the board.  I became Secretary of the board the following year.  My seven years on the board have been immensely fulfilling.

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

Volunteering at our local rehabilitation hospital, I’ve discovered that very few people know how to defrost a refrigerator/freezer quickly and thoroughly.

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

I’d love to be mentored by Dr. Jane Goodall for the sole purpose of learning how to be so brave.   Her leap from vision to execution and on to perseverance fills me with awe.  

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

I’m the only board member who isn’t a wildlife rehabber (I’m a lawyer), so I hope that one day I’ll actually become one.  

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

Oh, I’d have to be an Osprey.  Watching them and wanting to protect them was the reason I became involved with wildlife preservation in the first place. I’d summer in New England and winter in Rio!

Tidbits from board member Adam Grogan

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

I remember we used to find hedgehogs in the garden at our south London home, as well as one particular experience of finding a baby bird on the pavement when coming home from school. I must have been about 7 years old and not knowing any better took it home. Unfortunately, it died the next day.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

 

I attended a conference in 2001 in Florida and became hooked. I couldn’t attend the IWRC meeting every year but came whenever I could. I got involved with the Board because I was interested in training and working towards having agreed standards in wildlife rehabilitation across the globe.

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

The training is the area I am most interested in. I have seen so many examples of bad welfare in rehabilitation, and I think that having agreed-upon standards and trainings are the best ways to address these issues.

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

I have participated in many projects involving the radio tracking of mammals and this is a skill that is not often used by the rehabilitation community. Again, it is one of my passions to have more rehabilitators work towards a better understanding of the animals they rehabilitate by monitoring them after release, and radio tracking is one way of doing that.

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

Achieving my current position as Head of Wildlife at the RSPCA would definitely rank highly here.

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

I was lucky to have Dr. David Macdonald as a mentor when I was working with his research unit in Oxford. If I was to choose another, then I would choose Dr. Jane Goodall.

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

I would still like to work outside, but if not wildlife orientated, perhaps a ranger or something similar?

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

Otter

What is the thing for which you have waited the longest in line for?

I honestly can’t remember!

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

Traveling, especially flying!

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any companion animals with me at home, but I do get my dog fix in the office. Our office has a dog friendly policy, and there are a number of dogs that I see regularly, including a beautiful Irish setter called Bridie. She was rescued from awful conditions by the RSPCA and has now been re-homed by one of my colleagues. She is very photogenic and has a wonderful temperament!

Wildlife Rehabilitation Organizations Come Together for Week of CE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 7th, 2017

(Anaheim, CA)Since 1982 the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) has been dedicated to improving and promoting the profession of wildlife rehabilitation and its contributions to preserving natural ecosystems. The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) established its Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation class in 1984 to bring science-based education to rehabilitators worldwide. For many years both organizations have worked to disseminate knowledge, improve standards of care, and promote the conservation of wildlife. Now for the first time, we are coming together to provide a full week of continuing education for our members.

We are excited to announce that IWRC will be holding its Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation course at the upcoming NWRA Symposium in 2018. This two day course has been taught around the globe to wildlife rehabilitators, veterinarians, and biologists. The course registration includes a half-day lab as well as a copy of the new book, Wildlife Rehabilitation: A Comprehensive Approach! This course will be taught by former NWRA Board member and long time IWRC instructor Renee Schott, DVM, CWR. Come early for the IWRC Basic Course, February 26 and 27, then spend the rest of the week learning and networking at the NWRA Symposium! NWRA members receive the IWRC member rate for the Basic Course and IWRC members receive a 20 percent discount on the full week NWRA Symposium registration providing they book before February 16, 2018. For more symposium information, follow this link NWRA Symposium 2018. Registration for the IWRC Basic Class opens in November.

 

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Media Contacts: IWRC Kai Williams director@theiwrc.org @malkahkai @theiwrc 866-871-1869 x1

NWRA Molly Gezella-Baranczyk nwrasymposium@gmail.com (320) 230-9920

PDF of IWRC/NWRA Press Release

ABOUT THE ORGS

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.”

Incorporated in 1975, the IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife and habitat through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement is “providing science-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to promote wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.” 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 protection worldwide.

#HarveyWildlife Rehabilitation Effort Fundraiser

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 4th, 2017

 

Wildlife Rehabilitation Community Aids Its Own

[HOUSTON, TX] Disasters bring communities together and bring out the best in people. Organizations helping people and organizations helping companion animals (dogs, cats, horses, etc.) impacted by natural and human-made disasters have become part of the emergency landscape. They quickly and efficiently channel donor dollars into relief efforts.

It’s different with wildlife. While wild animals impacted by these same disasters get compassionate care from wildlife rescuers and rehabilitators, a well-organized and well-funded response system has never been in place.

The magnitude of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey has compelled our organizations – LoveAnimals.org, Animal Help Now, Southern Wildlife Rehab, and The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) – to put together a fundraising effort to come to the aid of the wildlife rehabilitators and rescuers desperately working to save wild animals orphaned, injured, or displaced by Hurricane Harvey and subsequent Texas flooding. The organizers intend for this effort to help serve as a model for future response efforts.

In just a few days, the Harvey WIldlife Relief Fund has attracted more than a hundred donors and about $9,000 in donations. Before a week will pass on this fund’s launch, donated dollars will be transferred to the accounts of the wildlife rehabilitators who have applied for assistance.

IWRC member and REP for Wildlife founder, Brooke Durham explains, “Our goal with the Harvey Wildlife Relief Fund is to quickly and efficiently get funds transferred over to our licensed wildlife rehabilitators in Texas so that they can continue to provide their vital services to wildlife and indeed to the public in the affected areas.”

Michelle Camara, whose Southern Wildlife Rehab was not impacted by Hurricane Harvey, stepped up to help her colleagues. Camara adds, “Wildlife rehabbers and rescuers in the impacted Gulf Coast region are in desperate need of help. Some operations have been directly damaged by the storm. Some farther north are taking in patients from those directly impacted. Most rehabbers have no means of fundraising, and even those that do cannot focus on anything right now other than admitting and triaging the stream of opossums, baby squirrels, raccoons, snakes and shorebirds arriving at their doors.”

Animal Help Now co-founder and executive director David Crawford adds, “It is clear that coordinated efforts to assist wildlife and wildlife rehabilitators must be in place in advance of anticipated disasters such as floods and hurricanes. This collaborative effort, facilitated in exemplary fashion by John Irvine, President of LoveAnimals.org, will help create a model going forward. We have learned a lot, and Harvey has again demonstrated that wildlife is especially vulnerable to environmental disasters in this new century.”

The team behind this fundraising effort is donating all time and materials, so besides some minor credit card processor fees, 100% of the money is going directly to wildlife rehabilitators and rescuers directly or indirectly impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Grant funding is open to licensed wildlife rehabilitators and wildlife related registered nonprofit orgs (wildlife centers, home-based wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife hotlines and rescues) who have been directly or indirectly impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The initial grants are modest, but the group will be awarding them frequently, and recipients are allowed to receive multiple grants.

Donations may be made at www.LoveAnimals.org/Harvey.

Candidates may apply online or by phone at (210) 825-8961.

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LINKS

Facebook Page

Application Form

Donation Site     

PDF of #HarveyWildlife Press Release

Media Contact: Kai Williams director@theiwrc.org @malkahkai @theiwrc 866-871-1869 x1

Hashtag #Harveywildlife

ABOUT THE ORGS

The IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife and habitat through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement is “providing science-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to promote wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.” 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 protection worldwide. @theiwrc

Animal Help Now, through AHNow.org and free iPhone and Android apps, leverages digital technologies to immediately connect people involved with animal emergencies with the most appropriate time- and location-specific resources and services. Animal Help Now also works to minimize threats to wildlife through education and advocacy. AHNow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. @animalhelpnow

Southern Wildlife Rehab, Inc. was founded by Michelle Camara in 2014. She has rehabilitated animals for over 30 years. The subpermittees, volunteers, vets and consulting experts from all over the United States help us in our efforts to rescue and rehabilitate native wildlife. We are all 100% unpaid volunteers based in Texas and Louisiana.

Photos (click individual photos for captions and version downloadable by press. Use only with this story)

Logos

Wildlife Rehabilitation: The Career

Reprinted with permission from Becoming a Wildlife Professional, Scott E Henke and Paul R Krausman, editors (pp 140-142)

Wildlife rehabilitation centers are nonprofit or governmental agencies that provide care to injured, ill, and orphaned wild animals and assist area residents with human/wildlife conflicts. Organizational goals and missions focus on the conservation of species, conflict resolution, public education, the relief of animals’ pain and suffering, and the monitoring of anthropogenic issues (influences of humans on nature), including lead ammunition, rodenticides, and climate change.

Job Description

Wildlife rehabilitators are quick thinkers who work well with people and animals. They have a passion for wildlife, but the job is more far-reaching than feeding and caring for individual animals. Many centers have limited staffs, which require their employees to be jacks-of-all-trades, ranging from construction and maintenance to veterinary nursing and habitat design. On an annual basis, rehabilitators can expect to spend 35% of their time caring for animals, 35% working with the public, 15% handling administrative tasks, and 15% managing the facility. The duties in each of these areas vary seasonally, as do the expected hours worked per week. Spring and summer months see baby animals brought to the centers, with at least 12-hour days of feeding and public education to prevent the kidnapping of young wildlife that do not need assistance. Intakes in summer and, especially, fall involve many immature species venturing out on their own and having accidents with cas, windows, diseases, and poisonings. Winter is traditionally a quieter season, with time to concentrate on records and continuing education, while also caring for a smaller number of juvenile and adult animals that are more critically injured.

One of the most important aspects of this work is interacting with the public. Rehabilitators are ambassadors between wildlife and the public. A conversation with one person is shared with friends and family and will reflect the way they handle wildlife situations in the future. Rehabilitators humanely resolve human/animal conflicts, from squirrels nesting in the attic to woodpeckers that are busy removing termites from the siding of a house and, in the process, damaging that siding. A busy center may get over 100 phone calls on a spring day, which need support from skilled animal caregivers to assess whether an animal is exhibiting natural behavior or if it may need to be admitted. Every animal that stays in the wild and does not need to come into a wildlife rehabilitation center is a success story.

Animal intakes require human interactions and wildlife knowledge. Intake rehabilitators are the public face of the wildlife center. These rehabilitators obtain the necessary history on the animal, gathering information that assists in its diagnosis and care. Often this happens at the center, but in some circumstances this occurs out in the field, where rehabilitators deal with on-site conflict resolution or rescue and capture operations. Members of the public are usually in an emotional state during their initial interactions with a wildlife rehabilitator. They may be scared of the animal, as well as scared for the animal’s welfare. Part of the rehabilitators’ regular job is to counsel these individuals and help them make the best choice for the animal.

The second part of an animal intake is an initial exam and triage. Rehabilitators follow wildlife center protocols, which often includes a quick exam for immediately life-threatening problems, followed by triage care for blood loss, dehydration, and hypothermia. Once the animal has been stabilized, a more thorough examination is completed by a lead wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.

Additional animal care duties include follow-up treatments, daily rounds and observations, the feeding of young nursing mammals or the hand feeding of altricial birds (young hatchlings), and assisting with veterinary examinations and surgeries. Some interactions have a strong emotional component (e.g., euthanasia, cadaver management). Rehabilitators perform necropsies and ensure the appropriate disposal of deceased animal remains. Rehabilitators also release healthy wildlife into suitable environments.

Many of the tasks rehabilitators do on a daily basis for animals that are in a center’s care are indirect. Entry-level wildlife rehabilitators can expect to spend most of their time preparing food for the animals and cleaning laundry, dishes, and cages. This unglamourous group of tasks is critical for both the animals’ and human health. Rehabilitators also perform cage management, to ensure that these areas are appropriate to an animal’s age and health and provide proper substrates, enrichment, and exercise options for that animal. A surprising amount of time is spent in food acquisition. This can include foraging for wild insects and plants, raising and caring for farmed insects and rodents, and soliciting grocery stores and other companies for donated produce and seeds.

Rehabilitators do extensive research on and planning for each species that enters the center. For example, when faced with a new species, I have spent countless hours reviewing natural history texts, especially volumes that contain accounts of direct observations, and being on the phone with biologists and other wildlife rehabilitators who have prior experience with that species. Such research supplies information about the diet, caging, and release criteria for each animal brought to the center, and this is an essential aspect of the job for wildlife rehabilitators.

Each individual patient has a treatment plan, created in conjunction with the center’s veterinarian. The treatment plan is the culmination of subjective and objective observations, examinations, and laboratory results. Often rehabilitators’ duties include blood and fecal analyses for parasite identification, packed cell volume, white blood cell counts, and differential blood cell counts, while more in-depth work in this area generally is sent out to a lab by the attending veterinarian.

Wildlife rehabilitators often participate in research, either within the center or in conjunction with a university. Topics may include patient case histories, disease identification, parasite loads and identification, release rates, post-release monitoring, and the success rates of new and novel treatments. For examples of such research, see the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation website.

Administrative aspects of wildlife rehabilitation include keeping records, maintaining organizational health (account balancing, public relations, board and staff relations, and the revision and care of organizational documents, such as bylaws and strategic plans), and managing human resources. Most wildlife centers do not have large staffs. Therefore, administrative tasks often are performed by the people caring for the wildlife. Record keeping is done both for the center's information and for governmental reporting requirements in the United States, wildlife centers are regulated by state departments of natural resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Extensive records are kept on each intake, from data on the citizen who found the animal to the final disposition of the patient. Records must also be kept for controlled drugs licensed to the wildlife center veterinarian, donations received, and staff members. Accounting, budgeting, and fundraising might feel like intrusions, shifting time away from the care of animals, but they are a necessary component in keeping an organization solvent and functioning. Rehabilitators have a responsibility to continue their professional development, in order to maintain an excellent standard of organizational and animal management. Upper-level staff members are also expected to interface with the media and the wildlife center’s board of directors.

Facilities management also is a duty for most wildlife rehabilitators. Expect to do some of the same maintenance work you do at home (e.g., landscaping, maintaining electrical equipment, replacing light bulbs, troubleshooting plumbing, painting). Additionally, you become proficient at basic woodworking while building and repairing cages.

Wildlife rehabilitation is not a 0900-1700 job. The work varies from 4 to 5 hours during the winter to 14-hour days during the summer. Wildlife rehabilitation is an exhilarating and exhausting career choice, requiring total commitment but providing many tangible and intangible rewards. The best ones are to witness a the bird you’ve spent the last five months caring for fly free, or to oversee the release of a beaver that took two years of care before it was independent and ready for the wild.

Background Needed

Successful wildlife rehabilitators have knowledge of and experience in ecology, business, medicine, public policy, and construction. Wildlife rehabilitation is still an emerging field and much can be learned on the ob, but the greater the preparation and the number of skills you have beforehand, the more likely you are to obtain a paid position. Useful hands-on skills include animal handling; knowledge of wild animal behavior; basic wound management; animal rescue techniques; an ability to identify and use basic medical supplies, including common bandage materials, syringes, and needles; experience with basic construction and maintenance tools; expertise in microscopy; an excellent telephone presence; and conflict resolution skills.

As a prospective wildlife rehabilitator, you should not be surprised that the list of required knowledge includes wildlife conservation and medical ethics, natural history, basic pathology, parasitology (especially zoonoses, which are diseases transmitted from animals to humans), anatomy, nutrition, and animal behavior. Often rehabilitation centers are quite small entities, and staff and volunteers must perform multiple tasks. Be prepared to assist with the general management needs of a small nonprofit business, including bookkeeping, fundraising (winter hours maybe be spent submitting numerous grants and planning events to gather support from the local community), human resources, facility maintenance, and all the policies that go with these critical functions. You also will be responsible for understanding and following governmental mandates related to wildlife rehabilitation, at levels ranging from local municipalities to the federal government. For example, the transportation of white-tailed deer between counties might be illegal in one state, to prevent the transmission of chronic wasting disease, or special dispensation might be needed for transport between countries for a Swainson's hawk that missed migration, due to a car accident.

Education Required

At this time, a formal education is not necessary in the wildlife rehabilitation field, but you should expect to need a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree as a veterinary technician for paid positions. States and provinces may also require a specific level of education certification, or the passing of certain exams before issuing a license to rehabilitate wildlife.

Pay Scale

Most wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers. Paid positions do exist, however. The general annual pay range is between $20,000 and $40,000, with senior positions at large facilities having salaries of up to $75,000 per year. The pay scales in wildlife rehabilitation depend on the resources and fundraising ability of each organization.

This description originally appeared in Becoming a Wildlife Professional, Scott E Henke and Paul R Krausman, editors (pp 140-142) and is reprinted here with permission.

Tidbits from board member Ashraf NVK

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

Like all children, I was naturally attracted to animals, but more than others. I lived in a semi-urban environment and we had free-ranging backyard poultry. I would stand at the entrance when the door is opened to get my favourite hen in hand before she darts off for foraging! Thus began my contact with animals, with chicken first and then cats.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

(i) to act as an ambassador to bridge the gap between rehabilitators of Indian subcontinent and the west

(ii) to bring science into wildlife rehabilitation for wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide

(iii) to work towards bring into focus the wildlife rehabilitation efforts of tropical Asian countries

(iv) to consider introduction of one or two new courses in IWRC run rehab courses, like conflict animal management and orphan large mammal hand rearing, especially for participants from the tropics

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

IWRC’s mission matches with Wildlife Trust of India’s (the organization I work for) ‘Wild Rescue’ division’s goal of “improving the welfare of displaced animals while enhancing conservation and pioneering science based rehabilitation, conflict mitigation and wildlife health.” To get involved with IWRC’s activities in every possible way to achieve its mission of providing science based education and resources on wildlife rehab,

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

One skill (natural and nurtured) that stands out is designing animal enclosures based on their behavioural needs and the manager’s managerial requirements.

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

Being the leader of the team that brought science-based wildlife rehabilitation program to India. The Asiatic black bear rehabilitation project, being the first successful one, stands tall among all the achievements in the field of wildlife rehabilitation.

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

I can’t name anyone in particular, but someone like my uncle Mr. Abdullah (who is no more) who inspired me to study well during my school days. He was the person who turned my life around!

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

Architecture. Actually my skills during school days was on designing buildings, parks, mosques. I was good at drawing as well, but there was no one to spot this talent and suggest Architecture as a profession. In India, even now, most people can’t think of any profession, besides medicine and engineering!

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

A squid in the Antarctic waters!

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

So many things, but the most exciting of all could be an important cricket match involving India!

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

As said earlier, I love cats. I had few of them during my childhood, but not now because my wife does not like cats. Unfortunate, but true! Needless to say that this is the biggest sacrifice I have made in my life for her sake!

Promote mental health in the work (volunteer) place

In recent years, Lynn Miller, Sue Wylie, and I have written reminders to take time for self care in IWRC’s newsletters. After discussing the recent instances of suicide with a colleague, it occurred to me that IWRC is well placed to do more to speak up for the mental health of wildlife rehabilitators. Over the next few months we will write and share a series of pieces on mental health, including information on self assessment, tips for self care, and resources for centers and individuals to use in maintaining mental health.

As we’ve started the research for this task, CWR Director, Marjan Ghadrdan, and I have found many resources are available. We are excited to bring you some of our favorite resources and learnings. If you’d like to start exploring now visit the AVMA’s wellness site.

If you are in urgent need of help please contact a hotline immediately. Many countries have national hotlines. If you are in the US click here to chat with someone right now.

Considering Workplace Mental Health

There’s a move from corporate giants, including Unilever, Bell, and Prudential, to address mental health in the workplace. Access to large corporation work benefits like in-office fitness centers, day care, and health screenings, are concepts that don’t downscale easily to your average small nonprofit. But we can acknowledge that mental health needs and illnesses are just as real as physical ailments. Whether it is one volunteer or 15 employees, institute a culture at work that openly addresses mental health.

Mental illness affects many people, 4.4% of the global population is thought to suffer from depression alone1. Our community is particularly at risk, as job related factors of compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress can increase the risk of developing a mental health problem. These same issues affect emergency response workers and individuals in veterinary and human medicine; fortunately, this commonality means there are good aid resources already developed.

Steps to Take

Understand the unique risks of our work and help employees and volunteers do the same

  • See the resource section at the bottom for education aids.

Encourage self assessment

Provide resources for self-care and set a culture where self-care is a priority

  • Encourage walks
  • Put out a coloring book
  • Provide a ‘no wildlife’ break area
  • Create a venting wall or opt for online and create a safe space for venting
  • Establish breaks
  • Buddy system
  • Set up a self care board where people can share ideas
  • Hire (or find a volunteer!) professional to talk to people one on one or run a group session
  • Set up an employee assistance program (EAP)

What resources do you have in your rehabilitation clinic? Share with director@theiwrc.org and we’ll see about posting in the a full list later in the year.

Resources

Pamphlets and Tools

    Workplace Stress

    Coping for Emergency Responders

    Self Care Pocket Card

 

Courses

    When Caring Hurts: Managing Compassion Fatigue (free!)

    Building Your Balance: Understanding Compassion Fatigue and Stress Management

    Compassion Fatigue Strategies

 

Books

    Compassion Fatigue in the Animal Care Community

 

  1. Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

Amanda Margraves, In Memoriam

by Lloyd Brown

On the evening of Saturday, May 13th I lost a close friend and the wildlife rehabilitation community lost one of our own

Amanda wearing a green blazer and smiling with a model of a crow on her shoulder
Amanda posing with a crow puppet. (C) Lloyd Brown

Amanda Autumn Margraves was always meant to be a rehabber, she just didn’t always know what to call it. She had a passion for animals and went to the University of Michigan, where she was studying in the Pre-Vet program, when she found an injured squirrel. Like many people who have such experiences, she spent almost a whole day trying to find out what could be done to help it.  When she finally found a rehabber and learned what wildlife rehab is all about, she was hooked.  She continued on at U of Michigan and got her bachelor's degree in zoology. But from then on, she was a rehabber.

After college, she got a job at the Flint RiverQuarium, in Albany, Georgia. While there, she became a Georgia State permitted rehabber. She was the only rehabber in her area so she took in everything. While there she also volunteered with the rescue efforts of seabirds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that affected the coastal birds along the Gulf of Mexico.  

She then went to Belize where she worked at Belize Bird Rescue and Wildtracks. She loved Belize and even after she moved on, she would go back as often as she could.  

After that, she landed the job of Director of Rehab at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.  

I had begun my rehab life at the Keys Bird Center working under their founder Laura Quinn. I lived and worked there for two years before moving on to work on a dolphin rescue project and eventually started my own place. Mine is the next rehab center to the north of the Keys bird center, so, I maintained close ties with them. When I heard that they were getting in a new rehabber, I made a trip down to meet her and introduce myself. That was when I met Amanda. That was in 2011 and over the next several years we stayed friends and rehab neighbors.  If I had a water bird I would send it down to her. If she had a large bird of prey or a mammal, she would send it to me.  During her four years there, she became a legend and was beloved by the Keys community. She was known as someone who would show up at any hour of the day or night (sometimes in her pajamas and slippers) to rescue any animal in peril.  Everybody loved her and she had a cult-like following of fans who thought she was a saint and would follow her every move on social media. Many of these fans were people had witnessed her rescuing animals and some had only heard about her and wanted to know her.

In September of 2015, she came to work with me and live at my center (Wildlife Rescue of Dade County) in the south end of Miami-Dade County. For twenty plus years, I had been running the center on my own and the addition of another experienced and legally permitted rehabber made an amazing difference.

She worked at Wildlife Rescue for a year before she got hired to at Zoo Miami where she worked in the Amazon/South America section.

Unfortunately, despite the many people who loved her, she fought a terrible, personal battle with depression. People who didn’t really know her only saw the animal rescuing super-hero, wonder woman who would quickly put her own life in danger to rescue any animal. Few saw the struggles she had to fight to save her own life every day. She lived and worked at my center for a year and a half and so I saw the highs and the lows.  

Amanda with a bottle in her hand and towel on her lap. A young canid is sitting on towel.
(C) Lloyd Brown

When I would see her in her deep depression, I would put her to work caring for babies. This would usually bring a smile to her face right through the tears. Nothing could fight away her depression like a baby fox or otter that needed a bottle.

Sadly on that particular night, she could not fight off the demons when they came for her and convinced her to take her own life. Her last text to me was that I was running low on raccoon milk and I need to order more. Right up to her end, she was thinking of what had to be done to take care of our babies.

To me, Amanda was not just a rehabber. She was my partner and friend.

Amanda was born in Michigan and was 35 years old.  

 

Our members are always welcome to submit In Memoriams to IWRC for rehabilitators who have died. Submissions may be edited for content or length.

Tidbits from New Staff Member Katie McInnis

Headshot of Katie McInnis wearing magenta scrubs.Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship with wildlife.

 As a child I always loved animals. I distinctly remember finding a squirrel that had been hit by a car and wanting to help him. My mother helped me get the squirrel into a box and we took it to the vet. Although things didn’t turn out like I had hoped, I was happy that I was able to do something to help ease his pain.

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

 I am very passionate about bringing education and resources to wildlife rehabbers of all skill levels. Over the years I have seen many different rehab facilities and met many different volunteers and rehabbers. I truly believe that networking and continuing education are not only vital for excellent animal care, but for the health and well being of rehabbers as well!

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

I am very good at planning and being prepared. Whether it is driving to rescue an injured bird or planning out a lengthy anesthesia and surgery, I always make sure I have everything I need on hand before I begin.

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

Doug Mader, DVM, one of the foremost authorities on reptile medicine!

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

I would love to be a travelling wildlife vet, going from country to country to work in various rehab facilities, learning to care for different species and helping with education and conservation.

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

A hedgehog!

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.
We currently have a dog and two cats. Dolly is a walker coon hound that came from the Kansas Humane Society. She loves her creature comforts, and is very happy as long as she has a warm, soft bed, plenty of food and someone to pet her. She is very affectionate, but quite drooly, which can be problematic. Miss Kitty is a laid back cat, that was surrendered to one of the vet hospitals I worked at. She likes to be petted occasionally, but has more fun chasing our other cat around the house or laying in the sun. She is around 12 years old, so a bit more sedate. Kiki is 2 years old, and was found wandering outside, she was skinny and had a terrible flea infestation. A vet tech I worked with brought her in and convinced me to foster her. Of course we ended up keeping her. She is now quite fat, and hates having her flea meds applied. She can be very affectionate but also very surly. At times she will jump up on something she shouldn’t and when you try to remove her watch out! She knows what you are doing and will bite you! She does like to have cuddle time every morning though. She also enjoys watching squirrels, and has tried unsuccessfully to pounce on one or two by launching herself at the glass window. Oops! Both cats stay indoors, but they love going out in the garage to explore and have a change in scenery.