From Community Notices

Raging Wildfires in Chile Affect Wildlife

Since early January Chile has been facing the worst forest fires it has ever seen in modern history, with ~2300 sq miles of land destroyed, thousands of people evacuated and 11 human deaths. The Chilean government has declared state of emergency in several areas, which have been receiving support from official emergency agencies, international help, and volunteers.

This is a catastrophe: it can be described as a chain of wildfires, which have overwhelmed national services. Communities have lost their houses (more that 7,000 are homeless), their livelihoods destroyed (vineyards, tree plantations, etc), and many domestic animals have died or been injured.

A silent victim of these fires are wild animals. Chile does not have the richness of other Latin American countries such as Brazil or Colombia; but the affected area has a unique level of endemism. In fact, the most affected species are the ones with limited displacements, especially amphibians and reptiles which are also the two groups with higher endemism in the country. The Lolol Lizard (Liolaemus confusus), was just recently described as a species and with a species home range of only aprox 5 km2. The entirety of its known distribution has been destroyed by the fires; the species may be facing a real threat of extinction. Luckily, the National Service of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG) together with the National Zoo captured 20 individuals from the fires.

Three people giving aid to a Lycalopex sp while a fourth individual observes.
Emergency care being given to a Lycalopex sp Photo Credit Colegio Médico Veterinario de Chile A.G.


Harris hawk parabuteo unicinctus in care. Photo Credit Colegio Médico Veterinario de Chile A.G.
Examination of a culpeo or Andean fox Lycalopex culpaeus) Photo Credit Chilean National Zoo










Most wild animals caught in the fire have likely died; amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates may not be able to escape. But other species can escape. Survivors have been found by the authorities, NGOs and the community. Huge efforts have been initiated to capture these survivors and treat them accordingly. Most of these survivors are represented by mesocarnivores such as foxes (Lycalopex sp.), lesser grisson (Galictis cuja), and small felids. Most of these individuals have been taken to rehabilitation centers such as UFAS and the National Zoo, and have been treated in emergency facilities implemented with the cooperations of the national association of veterinarians (COLMEVET), National Zoo, national association of wildlife veterinarians (AMEVEFAS), NGOs, among others.

All fires are not yet extinguished. At the moment, more than 50 fires are active (original number was over 90 by some accounts); people and animals are still threatened by the flames. Who is to blame? Probably, it is a multifactorial chain that involves humans (both intentional arson and negligent behaviors), the extensive plantations of exotic and pyrogenetic species for wood and forestry, inadequate territorial planning, climate change, and poor/belated response of authorities.

How can you help?

There are many campaigns to receive help and support from national and international individuals. If you want to directly help animals, contact COLMEVET (National Association of Veterinarians), which is the official institution organizing the help for all animals in need. You can donate urgently needed funds via COLMEVET’s international GoFundMe campaign. To donate directly to wild animals, make explicit note of this in the comment field during the donation process.

Update 2/5/17: State of emergency has ended with 8 of the remaining fires being actively combated and the remaining fires extinguished or under control

Walter Crawford

Walter at the 2011 IWRC Symposium in Coral Springs Florida all dressed up in his favourite kilt!

Some people’s lives can be summed up with one lofty quotation. Walter Crawford was not such a person. He was a man of simple needs and complex dreams. Walter is best described not by a quotation, but by the fortune in a cookie: “A wise man knows everything. A shrewd man knows everybody.” Walter may have had to kiss a lot of toads to make his dreams come true, but he, himself, remained a prince. Click here to read an interview with Walter from 1998.

Jay Holcomb

Jay Holcomb: 1951 – 2014


On June 10th the wildlife rehabilitation community said farewell to Jay Holcomb, executive director of International Bird Rescue.

Fly free. Photo credits: Robert Elko
Fly free. Photo credits: Robert Elko

The first evidence of Jay and IWRC getting together is in March 1974 Board meeting minutes, noting his attendance at that meeting, but not his status. Jay’s association with the organization started before IWRC was even incorporated (this happened later in 1974). Its not clear from the records when Jay officially came on the board, but he was there by 1977 and spent at least 12 years on the board. Jay was president from 1981 to 1983 and again from 1988 to 1991.

Jay’s first tenure as president began auspiciously with the lovely editorial you see below, reprinted from Volume 5(3) of the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation and featured again in the soon to be published Volume 34(2). Jay maintained his strong relationship with IWRC through four decades and countless changes to the field. Most recently he stepped in to participate in the 2011 Symposium when the scheduled International Bird Rescue speaker was called out to the Rena Spill in New Zealand.

Jay’s influence was felt far and wide; demonstrated by the diverse award acknowledgements he received, from NWRA’s lifetime achievement award in 1996 to John Muir Conservationist of the Year and Oceana’s Ocean Hero in 2010.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Jay Holcomb Memorial Fund at International Bird Rescue. IWRC extends condolences to Jay’s family, colleagues, and the entire wildlife rehabilitation community.


Excerpt from Jay’s 1982 President’s Message


Jay Holcomb, picture circa 1982. JWR 5(3).
Jay Holcomb, circa 1982. JWR 5(3).

As president of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Council*, I feel a need to share some of my thoughts on the work that we are all involved in. I have been racking my brain to find the words of wisdom I wanted to say. Instead, I should have been searching my heart, for it is love that connects me with the animals. With this in mind, I want to share these thoughts with you.

One thing all rehabers have in common is a great love and compassion for the wild creatures of the earth. This is why we work incredible hours for little or no money, suffer from physical, emotional, and mental burn-out and sacrifice our personal relationships. It is our constant energy that has nurtured the field of wildlife rehabilitation to the point of becoming a respected and acknowledged profession and a necessary service in our communities.

Wildlife rehabilitation is a pioneering field. We are one of the first groups of people giving back to the earth what many have selfishly taken for years. With every creature we release to the sky or forest, we return a little of what we’ve been blessed with: the earth with all the trimmings.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Council was formed by a group of people who believe in the freedom for all creatures. We owe it to the animals in our care to investigate new ideas and innovative rehabilitation techniques. Sharing is the only way to maintain excellence and build a strong foundation of knowledge.

The full letter can be found in the archived Volume 5(3) and in the upcoming Volume 34(2).

*At the time this was written, IWRC was still known as the Wildlife Rehabilitation Council.


For additional in memoriams visit:

Jay’s Blog

International Bird Rescue


Daily Breeze

Di Conger

We all have that one instance or person who got us involved in wildlife rehabilitation.  Let’s take a moment today to celebrate them; whether it was a person, a situation, or a single warbler.  For Karen, that person was Di Conger.  The rehab community is saddened by Di’s recent death.  Let us remember all of the animals who went back into the wild due to Di’s care, and all of the people she influenced in her life.  Di did not want an obituary, so instead Karen has offered to share her story of jumping into rehab.

Update 8/21/12:  A memorial will be held for Di in Maryland.  Dates are currently being decided upon (Sept 29, Oct 13, or Oct 20)  If you have an opinion on the date email Roxy at

Karen’s Story:

I first met Di in 1994.  I was working as an officer manager at an Invisible Fence dealership and Di was one of our clients.  Our work crews always referred to her as the “squirrel lady” because she always seemed to have a kazillion of them either in her house or in her pre-release cages.  I had talked to her many times on the phone but didn’t meet her in person until the spring of 1994 when we had a huge old tree cut down outside the corner of our old farmhouse.  The tree was so big and old I couldn’t put my arms a fourth of the way around the trunk!  Sure enough, when a main branch was cut – the workers cut right through a squirrel’s nest full of tiny pinkies.  They had no way of knowing it was there!  One baby was killed and two more fell a LONG way to the ground.  We put some of the nest material around the base of the tree, put the two little ones down and went in the house to watch.  Momma squirrel picked up one of the babies immediately and took it somewhere else.  She picked up the second one several times, turned her every which way and cleaned her thoroughly, and then left – and never came back.  PANIC TIME!!!!  I remembered talking to “squirrel lady” at work and immediately called Di!  She was so packed she couldn’t take another squirrel — but immediately told me exactly what to do and arrived about an hour later with an incubator, formula, and everything I needed to raise my little girl!  Next thing I knew, I was on Di’s Board of Directors!

Wendy Fox (1957-2011)

Wendy Fox, Former Seabird Station Director, Has Passed Away

Miami, August 8, 2011: Wendy Fox, age 54, passed away August 6 in her home surrounded her family, after a long battle with cancer. Wendy was the Executive Director of Pelican Harbor Seabird Station for 10 years. She retired in June. Her son, Brian Fox, has taken her place as Executive Director. She is survived by her husband, Jeff; mother, Joan; two children, Mieke and Brian, and two grandchildren, Makayla and Emily. In lieu of flowers, her family requests well-wishers to please make donations in her memory to Pelican Harbor Seabird Station.

Under her leadership the Seabird Station grew rapidly and began assisting other rehabilitation centers throughout the region. This included training wildlife rehabilitators in the US Virgin Islands, and assisting others with the care of injured pelicans along the eastern seaboard. She also served as the President of the National Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Association.

Her proudest moment, the pinnacle of her career, came in the summer of 2010, when Wendy was flown to Louisiana to assist with the care and treatment of pelicans oiled in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Some of these animals were transported to the Seabird Station in Miami for extended care.

Pelican Harbor Seabird Station (PHSS) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) wildlife rehabilitation center dedicated to the care of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in the greater Miami area. PHSS is famous for its work with brown pelicans.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to honor Wendy be sent to Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, 1279 NE 79th Street Causeway, Miami, FL 33138-4206.  Donations can be made payable to Pelican Harbor Seabird Station.

Francine Jones, CWR (1962-2011)

Francine Jones, age 48, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 in Michigan, USA.  Francine volunteered with River Raisin Raptor Center in Michigan for a number of years before getting her own state and Federal Permits and later worked with Mary Seth of Wings, Paws, and Prayers.

Dody Wyman, of River Raisin described Francine as one of the most unique people she has known. “She was full of generosity, quirkiness, and friendliness.  Always marching to her own drum, she was truly her own person.  Immediately likable, she was happy to share her fantasies and daydreams with anyone willing to listen.  You never knew exactly where her marching drum was taking her.  When it came time to work with her raptor patients, she was all serious business.  Each bird received the special care and attention it needed.”

Francine and her father, Paul, did many rescues and releases together in the Ann Arbor area – giving injured raptors in southeastern Michigan the best of care.  She will be greatly missed by her family, friends, and the rehab community.


Bob Lindsay (1951-2011)

Bob Lindsay, 59, of Wichita Falls, died Monday, April 25, 2011.

The memorial service with military honors will be conducted at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, 2011, in the chapel of Owens & Brumley Funeral Home. A family visitation will follow. Arrangements are under the direction of Owens & Brumley Funeral Home of Wichita Falls.

Bob was born June 3, 1951, in Wichita, Kansas. He was a 1969 graduate of North High School and a 1970 graduate of Central Drafting and Technical College, in Wichita, Kansas. He earned an Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Technology from San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas, in 1983. In 1989 he earned an Associate of Applied Science in Audio/Visual Production Services from Community College of the Air Force and an Associate of Applied Science in Management degree from San Antonio College in 1988.

Bob proudly and bravely served his country in the USAF from 1971 until his retirement as MSgt from the USAF Reserves from the 433rd following twenty-fours of service. He served on the Board of Directors, as well as acted as Volunteer Coordinator after starting as a volunteer for Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation from 1993-2005. He worked as Executive Director for Wild Bird Rescue from 2005-2011. Bob was a beloved husband, father, papa, son, friend and protector and caretaker of all wildlife.

Bob is survived by: his wife, Phyllis Lindsay, of Wichita Falls; daughter, Heather Lindsay of San Antonio, Texas; sisters, Sandra Geer, Pamela Deitchler, Patricia Mudloff, Kay Adams and Debra Adkins; a brother, Russell Adkins; his mother Thelma Gayer; a granddaughter, Jasmin Paniagua.

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations to be made in Bob Lindsay’s honor to Wild Bird Rescue, Inc. 4611 Lake Shore Drive, Wichita Falls, Texas 76310.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

Andrea Rene Wickham

Andrea Rene Wickham (1957-2011)

CUERO – Andrea Rene Wickham, age 53, passed away on Saturday, April 9, 2011 after a short, but difficult bout with cancer. She left this earth peacefully, surrounded by her loved ones. She was born on June 21, 1957 in Greenfield, Indiana. Andi was a beautiful and gentle soul and will be forever missed. Besides her devotion to family, Andi’s greatest passion was animals. She was a lover and caregiver of any animal in need. During her childhood, Andi took in orphaned animals such as deer (Belvedere and others), ferrets, vultures (Igor and others), owls, hawks, raccoons (Honky and others), and birds, along with many dogs and cats. Wherever Andi went, her animal friends were close behind.
She spent many years working at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas with Oceanographer Tony Amos and assisted Tony on numerous National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research trips to Antarctica She worked tirelessly at the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) in Port Aransas, caring for injured animals from dolphins to shore birds to sea turtles. She spent many nights looking after stranded dolphins and countless hours nursing them back to health. Her greatest joy was in releasing them, as well as all recovered animals at the ARK, back to their natural environment.
Andi is survived by her parents RO and Barbara Thomas Wickham of Cuero, brother Drake Wickham of Cuero, sister Kris Fowler and husband Jim of Corpus Christi, brother Matt Wickham and wife Gay of Victoria, niece Adrienne Potter Gasiorowski and husband Scott and son James Patrick of Corpus Christi, niece Sara Potter Mille and husband Sean of Corpus Christi, nieces Kate Wickham and Anna Grace Wickham, and nephew Will Wickham of Victoria. Five of her cherished adopted pets, Emma, Bella, Gus, “Puppy” and Dizzy, also survive her, as well as many additional relatives and friends who mourn her loss.
Andi was cared for by her loving parents during her illness. Her wonderful friend Jane Schnelker gave her tremendous comfort during the last few months, for which the Wickham family is forever in her debt.
A celebration of Andi’s life will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2011, from 2-4 pm at Aransas Princess Conference Center, 720 Beach Access Road 1-A, Port Aransas, TX, 78373.
The family would like to express deep appreciation to Hospice of South Texas who provided invaluable emotional support and medical care in Andi’s last days.
In lieu of flowers, if you wish to remember Andi with a charitable gift, please consider the ARK in Port Aransas or Hospice of South Texas.

Nonda Surratt

Nonda Surratt (1954-2011)

By MIWRA • March 29, 2011

HEBRON:  A reception to celebrate the life of Nonda Lou (nee Ruckman) Surratt will be held from1:00 – 2:30 P.M. Friday April 1, 2011 in The Dawes Arboretum’s Firelight Room with a Service of Remembrance at 2:30 P.M., Pastor Tom Myers presiding.

Nonda, age 56, passed away Friday, March 25, 2011 at Licking Memorial Hospital.  She was born July 22, 1954 in Newark, Ohio to her parents James V. and Marguerite (Taylor) Ruckman.  She graduated from Newark High School.  While a student she was a member of the 4H Club and the Licking County Raiders and Rough Riders.  She was also a member of the American Quarter Horse Association and competed in equestrian events throughout Ohio.  Her love for animals and the outdoors were the corner stones of Nonda’s life.  She volunteered with the State of Ohio as a wildlife rehabilitator and did speaking engagements for the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association throughout the U.S. and Canada.  She was on the board of the Michigan Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.  In addition to her love of animals she was an avid outdoor photographer.

Nonda is survived by her loving husband and fellow outdoor enthusiast Donald W. Surratt; her loving mother Marguerite Miller and step-father Russell D. Miller as well as a great aunt; cousins and many friends who shared her love for animals and the outdoors.

The family request, in lieu of flowers, tributes and memorial gifts in Nonda’s name be given to Dawes Arboretum, 7770 Jacksontown Road S.E., Newark, OH 43056; the place Nonda was so fond of and brought her peace of mind.   Several of her closest wildlife rehabilitator friends have set up a fund to collect enough to have a bench placed at Dawes in Nonda’s memory.  Please visit this page if you wish to participate.

The Surratt family requests on-line condolences via and clicking obituaries/view full details/guest book entry.