By Kai

Executive Director of The IWRC, Kai is interested in public policy, organizational culture, perceptions of wildlife, and all aspects of human/wildlife interactions. She lives in the hills of Oregon, USA.

Call for Comments and Suggestions

Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation

The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) are starting the process of revising the fourth edition of Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation (MSWR). Both organizations wish to get input from as many people as possible—rehabilitators, veterinarians, governing agencies, and others directly involved in the rehabilitation of wildlife.

The primary goal of MSWR is to improve the welfare of wildlife in rehabilitation. We aim to continue to add to and improve upon the information in the book for the benefit of all rehabilitators and the wildlife in their care.

In order to understand the current use of MSWR and then to improve the document as much as we can, we would like your input! You can do this by filling out the Survey Monkey form (specifically, question #4, but please complete the entire survey!) found at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BRNB92P

Please submit any and all changes or additions you feel should be addressed. All suggestions are reviewed thoroughly and considered seriously. Input can include suggested edits to the current edition, additions or deletions to existing material, or new text suggestions that would add to the foundation of knowledge in this book.

So that we may organize everyone’s input, please follow the format listed below.

For each comment or suggestion, please give:

  • Chapter number and title, and the edition to which you are referring (if applicable)
  • Your input; be as descriptive and complete as possible
  • If applicable, list data, resources, references, and reasons supporting your input

Suggestions and thoughts are welcomed through November 30, 2018, after which time the editors are at work evaluating every comment received and working on the fifth edition.

Thank you for your comments. Your commitment to wildlife in need and to furthering the science and standards of wildlife rehabilitation are greatly appreciated!

Intent Not Result—Drives US Migratory Bird Treaty Act Interpretation

Part I (March 2018)

On December 22, 2017, the US Department of the Interior released a new interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which does not prohibit incidental take. In addition, the US House of Representatives introduced a bill in November (HR 4239) which similarly removes protections from animals affected by the energy industry (oil spills, turbine issues, etc).

Read more about both initiatives courtesy of the American Bird Conservancy and learn about actions you can take.

Listen to Bye, Bye, Birdies? a 35 min podcast where several experts discuss the MBTA and the changes.

Part II (May 2018)

US rehabilitators may recall the recent reinterpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) that we reported on this Winter. It is no longer the result of an activity, but instead its intent that matters in regards to the MBTA. Stated plainly if birds, eggs, or nests are destroyed by an activity, but the purpose of that activity was not to destroy the birds, eggs, or nests, then the MBTA does not apply.

Wildlife rehabilitators in the US should be aware of this change when speaking to the public about legal interactions with wildlife. Unfortunately, the presence of a nesting bird no longer means it is against the law to take down a building. We can still counsel the public on best practices, and encourage them to act in the animal's interest, but we cannot say the action is illegal if the purpose is not to kill the bird(s). To help wildlife professionals navigate this new interpretation the USFWS has kindly issued a 7-page memorandum.

Additional communications are expected this summer regarding wildlife rehabilitation specific guidance.

In the meantime, IWRC is interested in hearing how this interpretation is affecting the day to day work of US rehabilitators.

2018 Board Changes

IWRC's annual board and officer elections are complete. Breakdown of the results:

 

Member Election Results

Lloyd Brown (reelected)

Brooke Durham *new board member

Laurin Huse (reelected)

Board Appointed Individuals

Shathi Govender *new board member

Adam Grogan (reelected)

Suzanne Pugh *new board member

Officer Positions

Mandy Kamps is our newly elected vice-president.

Adam Grogan has moved from his previous post as vice-president to president-elect.

Our other officer positions remain the same as 2017 with Sue Wylie - president, Kristen Heitman - secretary, Dani Nicholson - treasurer.

 

Meet all our 2018 full board of directors

#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.

###

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.

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.

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.

Together, we give knowledge

gt-iwrc-banner-1

Thank goodness Black Friday and Cyber Monday are followed globally (71 countries and counting!) by #GivingTuesday, a day of social giving and philanthropy.

"As a global movement, #GivingTuesday unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another.”

Teach a man to fish  =  Train a wildlife rehabilitator

The old adage holds true. TEACHING is powerful.

Instructor Kelli Knight and a student viewing parasite images in a microscope.
Instructor Kelli Knight and a student discuss microscope slides during the summer 2016 Parasitology lab in Brunei.

$200 provides basic professional training to a practitioner of wildlife rehabilitation. The best thing about education? It doesn’t go away. That $200 of knowledge will help a rehabilitator properly care for two hundred animals each year for many years to come. Over ten years that $200 helps 2000 animals!

Speaking of fish…IWRC has embarked on a new adventure in wildlife nutrition training. The old one day class and static manual are being turned into an interactive two day course with an accompanying revised manual and a workbook. This #GivingTuesday I’m challenging our community to raise $2500, matched DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR by an anonymous board member.

Recent Journal Abstracts Issue 36(3)

The full papers can be found in the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation 36(3), available to all IWRC members.

AN ANALYSIS OF JUVENILE RED FOX BEHAVIOR IN RESPONSE TO AMBIENT TEMPERATURE CHANGES IN AN OUTDOOR PRE-RELEASE ENCLOSURE

Cale Matesic and Esther Finegan

ABSTRACT: The behavioral responses of 7 red fox kits to temperature changes in an outdoor enclosure were recorded for 2 weeks prior to release. Images of the animals were captured by thermal imaging and behavior was documented through observation from outside their enclosure. At ambient air temperatures ranging from 20-23°C, red fox kits exhibited natural wild behavior (walking, running, eating, playing). At higher temperatures, 26-28°C, red fox kits began exhibiting potentially thermally related behaviors including lying with their loins exposed. This analysis suggests that there may be benefits for larger, better ventilated outdoor enclosures for red fox rehabilitation so that confined areas of increased temperature can be avoided.

KEY WORDS: behavior, southern Ontario, red fox, rehabilitation, thermoregulation, Vulpes vulpes, welfare, wildlife

 

CAUSES OF STRANDING AND MORTALITY, AND FINAL DISPOSITION OF LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES (CARETTA CARETTA) ADMITTED TO A WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CENTER IN GRAN CANARIA ISLAND, SPAIN (1998-2014): A LONG-TERM RETROSPECTIVE STUDY

Jorge Orós, Natalia Montedeoca, María Camacho, Alberto Arencibia, and Pascual Calabuig

ABSTRACT

Aims: The aims of this study were to analyze causes of stranding of 1,860 loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) admitted at the Tafira Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Gran Canaria Island, Spain from 1998 to 2014, and to analyze outcomes of the rehabilitation process to allow auditing of its quality.

Methods: Primary causes of morbidity were classified into seven categories. Final dispositions were calculated as euthanasia (Er), unassisted mortality (Mr), and release (Rr) rates. Time to death (Td) for euthanized and dead turtles, and length of stay for released (Tr) turtles were evaluated.

Results: The most frequent causes of morbidity were entanglement in fishing gear and/ or plastics (50.81%), unknown/undetermined (20.37%), and ingestion of hooks (11.88%). The final disposition of the 1,634 loggerhead turtles admitted alive were: Er = 3.37%, Mr = 10.34%, and Rr = 86.29%. Er was higher in the trauma category (18.67%) than in other causes of admission. The highest Mr was for turtles admitted due to trauma (30.67%). The highest Rr was in crude oil (93.87%) and entanglement (92.38%) categories. Conclusions: This survey, the first large-scale epidemiological study on causes of stranding and mortality of Eastern Atlantic loggerheads, demonstrates that at least 71.72% of strandings have anthropogenic causes. The high Rr emphasizes the importance of marine rehabilitation centers in conservation. The stratified analysis by causes of admission of final disposition rates and parameters Td and Tr should be included in the outcome research of the rehabilitation process of sea turtles to allow comparative studies between marine rehabilitation centers around the world.

Reprint: PLoS One. 2016 Feb 22;11(2): e0149398. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone. 0149398. eCollection 2016.

More from Dr. Ulrike Streicher: Cambodian Intermezzo

Following her amazing work in Vietnam (read more here), Dr. Ulrike Streicher continued her journey in Cambodia. Along with her work at the University of Oregon, Dr. Streicher is also currently volunteering her time as the veterinarian for the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon. Originally from Germany, Dr. Streicher not only holds a DVM from Freie Universität Berlin, she also accomplished a PhD from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München. Her dissertation was on the ecology and conservation of the pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) in Vietnam. She is a member of the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians, the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group as well as the Primate Specialist Group. Learn about her experience in Cambodia below.

A gloved Uli checks the mouth of a primate that is lying on an examination table.
Dental check of a pigtailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina)

 

While I had only intended to spend one year in Vietnam, it had become eight. The Endangered Primate Rescue Center had grown into the region’s leading primate rescue facility, and steps for a reintroduction programme for the first captive bred primates were on the way. However, being the sole veterinarian working in this field in the area, I felt isolated, missed colleagues, and felt the work I was doing was minimal. When there were no new animals arriving, there was often little for a veterinarian to do. Money was always tight and not enough veterinary work to really justify investing in the expansion of the veterinary side. So, when I heard that the much larger Phnom Tamao Rescue Center in Cambodia was looking for an international veterinarian, I bid my forest home in Vietnam farewell.

The Phnom Tamao Rescue Center is located about 30 miles outside Phnom Penh. Originally just the country’s national zoo, the facility also started to take on the role as Cambodia’s main wildlife rescue center. In Cambodia, an NGO called Wildlife Alliance runs a very effective programme to combat illegal wildlife trade. Instead of setting up its own facility, this organization supports the existing national facility with staff and finances so it can act as a rescue center as well. As a result, Phnom Tamao is home to one of the most comprehensive collection of Indochinese animals.

The head and shoulders are shown of a serow being transported in the back of a pickup enclosed in a large bamboo structure.
Arrival of a elusive forest dweller - a Sumatran serow (Capricornis sumatraensis)

When I joined the Wildlife Alliance team in 2006, this rescue center was extremely busy. It kept about 1,200 animals, from birds to reptiles to all possible mammals, amongst them over 100 Malayan sun bears and Asian black bears due to the cooperation with the NGO Free the Bears. One day, the center would receive 50 hill mynah hatchlings, the next day a sun bear cub, then a tiny elephant with a missing foot or a huge python. Here I was not the only veterinarian but working with a Cambodian colleague. We had a small, reasonably equipped clinic and a quarantine area, fenced off from the rest of the center, which comprised about 20 smaller cages, basins and ponds. Everything had to be flexible to be able to hold maybe a small carnivore this week, perhaps some pigeons or a primate the next. Thanks to nearby Thailand, the necessary veterinary drugs were easily available and we were able to get our laboratory work done at the Institute Pasteur. I was good with the blow dart, but I also learned to appreciate skillful manual handling of wild animals, as anaesthetics were expensive. The dedicated international animal husbandry team working there had done a great job training their Cambodian colleagues, and I had a team, which could capture almost anything without injury to people or animals. The work was fascinating and the days were long, hot, hard and exciting.

Unfortunately, Wildlife Alliance had a fall out with the Cambodian government about financial issues and after I had been there for only one and a half years, the project was suspended and its continuation was unclear. During this time I was offered a wildlife rescue position in Laos and as the future of my position in Cambodia was insecure, I accepted the offer. Wildlife Alliance came to an agreement with the Cambodian government several months later and their valuable work to combat illegal wildlife trade and rescue illegally traded wildlife continues until today without further problems.
Watch out for more to come from Dr. Streicher and her incredible wildlife rescue work in Southeast Asia!