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Spotlight on New Board Member, Ashley Ihrke

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

I started volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation center in early 2017 and became a staff member shortly before

 going back to graduate school that same year. Once I became a staff member, I did more research and background around professional organizations in the wildlife rehabilitation field and discovered IWRC. I signed up as a member that year and have beena member since. Since graduating from school in 2019, I left my position at the rehabilitation center and have been involved as a volunteer helping sporadically when my work schedule allows with the center and other local rehabilitators. When the email came stating there were openings for the board, I found myself interested in the possibility of serving as a board member since I was not able to commit full-time to working as a wildlife rehabilitator and saw it as an opportunity to be involved and serve the rehabilitation community at another level.  

 

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 a diverse background having switched careers 6 years ago. My education includes a BS in Ecology and Field Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Biology followed by a Masters in Environmental Health and Safety (heavily concentrated in occupational safety and industrial hygiene).  This masters served as my primary profession for about four years in both public and private entities before I decided that it wasn’t what I wanted.  However, with this education and professional experience, I have gained a wide range of knowledge on public health, emergency management, and occupational and environmental regulations that have become very helpful in other aspects of life from volunteering roles to wildlife rescue to engaging with general members of the public to rehabilitating.  Since obtaining my second graduate degree, I have felt that I am able to serve my fellow rehabilitation community in other ways than just animal care by aiding in understanding regulations and public policy at a local, state, and federal level, helping to identify ways to approach and engage with different populations within the community and be more active as an advocate for wildlife conservation and welfare.

 

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

Completing a second graduate degree is one of the biggest accomplishments I consider significant in my career. I went ahead knowing that it was going to be a challenge and a significant change to my personal life as well. It also meant more to me as it was a subject I was passionate about since a young age. I managed to complete a Masters of Science in four semesters with a defended thesis and a GPA of 4.0. It was something I worked extra hard for and happily achieved.

 

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

I have a wide range of interests, but if I were to do something else professionally it would be to be a lobbyist. I enjoy the legislative process and actively engage in public policy at different levels. While in high school, I considered the environmental law school path to become more involved with politics for wildlife and natural resources.  

 

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

This is such a difficult question to answer because the first animal that came to mind was a skunk, and then a vulture. I know I would enjoy both as a wild animal in life. Skunks have such distinct personalities and a wide variety of colorings. They have this amazing ability to deter most species just from their scent!  For vultures, they are unseen and unwanted by many humans but they are such essential species in the role of maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Vultures are smart and resourceful birds with dynamic family groups.

 

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

Traveling excites me so much that it keeps me awake the night before. I am sure it is partially due to the stress of traveling: ensuring that the flight is on-time or no car troubles during the road trip, hoping for fair weather, and making sure I didn’t forget anything while packing. The excitement of heading somewhere new or somewhere you have been countless times before but always look forward to heading back to.  

 

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

Shelby is my 14-year-old yorkiepoo. She has a unique background and is considered a rescue. She was returned by her adopted family to the original breeder (they had one litter, and adopted all the pups out but one). Shelby was a shell of a dog, scared and shy when she came tome at 4.5 years old. It took a full year for her to feel comfortable with the human touch and want to be near you. She is spoiled now!  In the ten years she has been with me she has come to enjoy giving kisses, loves to cuddle on the couch or in bed, and isn’t afraid to voice her opinions. Shelby still has some fears: she is terrified over the smell of any kind of fire and smoke, a pan sizzling, and fireworks.

Spotlight on New Board Member, Lindsay Jones

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

From my earliest memories, I have always felt a close connection with all animals. As a young child, I was always bringing home stray animals and those in need of care, much to the dismay of my family. I started attending The Green River Preserve around the 3rd grade, which is a nature camp for gifted and motivated learners located in the mountains of North Carolina. There I was taught that our wildlife was to be respected, not feared, and I learned to walk through the forests as a mere visitor. Between the countless sightings, encounters, and education with wildlife at camp, I believe that this set me on a trajectory to become a wildlife biologist and rehabilitator. I have always felt that animals needed a voice, and I cannot imagine doing anything else. 

 

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

Around the time I was graduating college with a BS in Animal Biology, I briefly spent time volunteering at Walden’s Puddle Wildlife Center in Joelton, TN, which turned out to have a dramatic impact on my career path. Shortly after arriving in Wyoming after college, I realized that there was a real need to provide care to injured and orphaned animals, especially considering that Jackson Hole’s economy relies heavily on our wildlife industry. I eventually co-founded the Teton Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (TWRC) which filled a much needed gap in the west for wildlife, where I served as Co-Founder, Executive Director, wildlife rehabilitation specialist, and Vice President from 2015-April 2020.

During my tenure, I exposed myself to as much education and training as I could possibly handle, which of course included rehabilitation classes taught by the IWRC. I am currently taking a break with wildlife rehabilitation to pursue other opportunities and get my bearings after separating from my non-profit. In lieu of not being in a position to help wildlife at the moment, joining the IWRC board is a great way for me to feel like I can still make a difference and stay connected with our wonderful wildlife rehabilitation community. I also wore many hats during my time at TWRC, and I believe that my well-rounded experience will be very helpful in furthering IWRC’s mission and goals.

 

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

I feel like I could be diving in head first here, but I truly feel a calling to contribute to building our membership base in addition to helping with development. Because I built my own rehabilitation non-profit from the ground up, I was extremely involved with our donor base, networking, outreach, and the building of our policies, just to name a few. These experiences are still very fresh in my mind and extremely vital to the success of an organization, so I can’t wait to jump in and offer my time in these areas to the people who have already established such an important and thriving organization.

 

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

By far, I would consider the starting of my non-profit, the Teton Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, to be the most significant of my career. I always knew that I loved animals, which is why I chose to major in Animal Biology instead of going the medical route. However, I never knew exactly how I would utilize my degree until I spent some time at a rehabilitation center around the time of graduation. I had a Eureka moment after my brief time at Walden’s Puddle in Joelton, TN, and knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to the world of wildlife rehabilitation. 

Starting such a needed facility in the western U.S., not only in an intact ecosystem, but also amongst a sea of very established non-profits, really stands out among all of my other achievements. I will forever tout this as one of the most amazing accomplishments of my life and I am so proud to know that I contributed to the long-term well-being and survival of our wildlife.

 

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

In my next lifetime, I hope to be a forensic pathologist. I have early memories from high school, perhaps even earlier, of being fascinated with the cycle of life. I also have a predisposition for detective work and the minutiae of details, and I have always been intrigued with the events surrounding life and death. Who knows, there’s always room for multiple careers! 

 

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

I can’t say that I firmly believe that this animal has the best advantage in the wild, but I have an absolutely cosmic connection with owls (of all species). Perhaps not by choice, but by default, I would be an owl.

 

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

I share my life with my beautiful dog, Fern, and my two cats, Stanley and Jerry. I affectionately refer to them as my “roommates”, except I pay their rent. The cats are much more like dogs, where they love to go for walks and bike rides with Fern. They also get first priority on bed space, in case there were any questions. 

 

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month?

We here at the IWRC have recently put forth a few resources promoting mental health in wildlife rehabilitation, such as our blog post on Self-Caring During COVID-19 and our Going Home Checklist. As we can all imagine, due to the emotion, long hours, and stress placed on us (especially during the intense spring and summer hours), the importance of mental health cannot be overstated…. but what is mental health? How does our work impact our mental health? What can we do about this?

What is mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

mentalhealth.gov

1 in 5 adults experiences mental health issues1. Even if they don’t affect you personally, they likely affect someone you know!

Myth: I can’t help someone else get over their mental health issues. Busted: One’s social networks are perhaps the most valuable in helping them get through a difficult time. Friends and colleagues can not only show their support for those impacted but also help them find the help that they need.

Myth: Mental health issues cannot be prevented. Busted: As we rehabbers know with our own patients, prevention is far easier than treatment (though in our case, both are feasible!). Knowing one’s risks and limits can help manage our mental wellbeing.

Mental wellbeing impacts from our work

Traumatic events. We see a lot during our work as rehabilitators. Whether the animal was hit by a car, torn apart by a cat, or shot, it can be traumatic – both for the patient and for us. On a near-daily basis, we witness suffering and animals in duress.

Stressful life situations (financials, loved one’s death, divorce, ongoing medical conditions). As most of our work comes out of pocket – or relying solely on donations (surviving donation-by-donation), it can be very stressful to wonder if we can afford our next batch of mealworms.

Dealing with stressed, angered, or scared members of the public.

In addition…  

Advanced level of multitasking and triage (answering phone calls, feeding wildlife, etc)

Balancing relationships. Spring and Summer hours are long and seemingly never-ending… this can make personal relationships difficult to find and maintain.

Maintain positive mental health

1. Seek professional help. There should be no shame in asking for help. As we rehabbers know, we can’t do it all! It is more than OK to ask for help.

2. Connect with your social network. This doesn’t just mean Facebook. Reach out to your friends, family, coworkers, and colleagues. In fact, studies show that those who engage in regular social interactions with others are less likely to be depressed2. We’re in this together and you are not alone.

3. Help others. Well…. we probably have this pretty well covered in our daily work as rehabilitators but this is a great reminder ;)….

4. Sleep. What is sleep? We know those baby hummers need feeding every 20 minutes, but luckily we know that their parents do indeed get sleep – so we can too! The National Sleep Foundation’s recent studies show that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night3. Though it may not always be possible, it is a good goal to aim for! Don’t forget, we also make fewer mistakes when well-rested4.

5. Develop coping skills. We all go through rough, really rough days… It is OK to feel emotion about what we do, and it is OK to take a second to step outside, go for a run, or find a useful technique to deal with a difficult or stressful event5.

6. Get or stay active. Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. Staying physically active can help you maintain your mental wellbeing

Most importantly, please remember how awesome you are and the significant difference you make on wildlife’s lives each and every day. Stay healthy. Stay well!

Resources

International Hotline List

Crisis Text Line (US): Text HELLO to 741741

Suicide Hotline: +1-800-273-8255 (US)

National Alliance on Mental Health (US)

References

  1. Mental Health Myths and Facts. Washington DC: US Dept of Health & Human Services; 2017 [accessed 2020 May 26]. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts
  2. Steger MF, Kashdan TB. Depression and Everyday Social Activity, Belonging, and Well-Being. Journal of Counseling Psychology. 2009;56(2):289-300. doi: 10.1037/a0015416
  3. How much sleep do we really need? Arlington (United States): SleepFoundation.org; 2020 [accessed 2020 May 26]. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
  4. Gingerich S. Wake-up call: sleep deprivation can lead to workplace mistakes. Yardley (United States):Staywell; 2019 [accessed 2020 May 26] https://www.staywell.com/insights/sleep-deprivation-workplace-mistakes
  5. What is mental health. Washington DC: US Dept of Health & Human Services; 2019 [accessed 2020 May 26]. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health

A New Generation of IWRC Online Classes Coming Soon

Online learning is increasingly viewed as a valuable platform that offers tools not available in a traditional classroom setting. The IWRC strives to make our courses as accessible as possible, while constantly improving their quality. Throughout the remainder of 2020, we will be releasing new and revamped online courses that take advantage of the technological benefits of virtual learning.

This new generation of IWRC online courses will utilize the classic digital lecture style of our previous classes, and make them more interactive. We are adding knowledge reinforcing activities and tools, including knowledge checks, flashcards and other activities, as well as closed captions, to ensure students are getting the most from their learning experience. Our classes will employ different types of media such as pictures, audio, text, and video, to cater to a wider spectrum of learning styles. We hope that our students will enjoy not only a broader range of courses available from the convenience of their homes, but also an enhanced educational experience.

Image showing a portion of our new Wound Management online course.

The IWRC’s online classes do not seek to recreate or replace in-person courses but give you a different educational experience with the same learning outcomes. To allow students the opportunity to practice procedures traditionally taught through IWRC labs, we are creating virtual labs in partnership with Folkmanis Puppets. When completing a class with a lab, you will learn procedures and then upload videos of yourself completing these assignments. Your videos will then receive feedback and evaluation. For those without access to supplies or cadavers, lab kits can be purchased along with a class. In these kits we include the materials needed for your lab including a realistic and carefully crafted Folkmanis animal puppet on which to practice. In this way, our online classes will allow all the benefits of online learning without sacrificing the important experience you gain through a lab.

Puppet of a peregrine falcon with a figure 8 wing wrap in blue vetrap. The puppet is sitting on a towel.
Folkmanis puppet sporting a figure 8 bandage.

These new classes also come at an opportune moment — during the self-isolation and social distancing necessitated by the COVID-19 virus. While the global pandemic certainly lit a fire under our tails in terms of getting these courses ready for release, they have also been a long time coming. The development of these online courses began in 2018. Now these classes are being rewritten with up-to-date information, are being peer-reviewed by experts, and remodeled with current technologies/resources. You will find that our new courses, although timely, were not rushed to release, and are our best quality online learning resources to date! While we are committed to rolling out these new courses to meet the increasing need, we are still searching for funding to support this accelerated launch. Remember that donations, no matter the size, help us to grow and innovate!

Screenshot showing our explanatory video of avian body wrap using a deceased wood duck

Although we cannot promise exact dates, we will be releasing Wound Management with the bandaging laboratory this spring/early summer. Next, we will introduce our new Parasitology course (also available in-person at a later date), Fluid Therapy, and Pain Management! Directly following their release, the price of each course will be generously marked down. For students that recently took an older version of these courses, you can expect an additional discount as well!

Please stay tuned for more information on future online releases— we have some other projects in the works that we think you will love! The IWRC is committed to growing and improving our educational resources to push the field of wildlife rehabilitation forward. We hope you enjoy our growing curriculum!

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week!

We have them, we know them, we love them, and most of us even are them… Volunteers make up the lifeblood of our wildlife rehab operations. Without them? Well… we don’t even want to go there. They help us with anything and everything from cleaning to caring for our patients to medical procedures. They even help with the admittedly less-than-fun administrative tasks including fundraising, event planning, and management!

Whether they are nurses, lawyers, contractors, pilots, or teachers, with us they are amazing supporters of our work and our wildlife patients. Some may even think of it as the great equalizer; we all, in some way or another, end up cleaning feces and urine out of our clothing, scrapping it out of enclosures, or searching for the diet items for those rare species we sometimes get in.

 

Though this year, along with other challenges, is quite different. We aren’t able to give the usual in-person smiles, hugs, potlucks, appreciation dinners, or customized gifts to our volunteers (at least, not yet!). COVID-19 has affected all of us to a great extent, yet, throughout this difficult time, our volunteers continue to be more dedicated than ever to our cause.

Nonetheless, we cannot express how much we care about and appreciate our many volunteers who make our every day work possible. IWRC is sending out a virtual hug to our volunteers and all wildlife rehabilitation volunteers. Thank you for all that you do!

Wildlife Rehabilitators Operational Guidance for COVID-19

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

UPDATE 6/8/2020

Joint Statement on Wildlife Rehabiliation during COVID-19 from NWRA and IWRC

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

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

 

Biosecurity Best Practices

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

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

 

Community Considerations

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

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

 

Capacity Considerations

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

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

 

Intake Procedures 

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

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

Intake Information

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

Transfer of animal

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

 

Restrictions on movement

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

 

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

Native Songbird Care

RSPCA

St. Melangell’s Small Mammal Sanctuary

 

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

Stay safe!   

 

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

 

Australia

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

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

Rufous scrub-bird illustration (C) P. Latas

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

Noisy scrub-bird illustration (C) P. Latas

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Pat Latas, DVM

IWRC Board of Directors

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

“Birds of Eastern Australia 2020

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

This is what climate change looks like.”

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

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, kookaburra.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, rainbow lorikeet.

 

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

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, topknot pigeon.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, unidentified.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, New Holland honeyeater.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, whipbird.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, gang-gang cockatoo.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, silvereye.

 

Facebook user Nick Ritar, barn owl.

 

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

 

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.

The What, Why, and How of SOPs

Reprinted with permission from WRNBC Network News 30(2) of the Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Network of British Columbia

by Ana Mendes

What is an SOP?

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of fixed instructions or steps for carrying out routine operations. These rules provide structure and framework to an organization with multiple employees and/or volunteers.

Alternative paperwork:
Protocols: detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment or procedure
Policies: course or principle of action adopted or proposed by an organization or individual
Procedure: who, what, where, when and how a task should be completed

  • Scope: What is the intention/purpose of the procedure
  • Responsibility: Who performs the procedure
  • PPE: Necessary safety equipment
  • Materials: Items needed to perform the procedure
  • References: Any external resources or guides used
  • Definitions: Any special terminology used that needs clarification for the user
  • Procedure: Step-by-step how-to list for completing the task

How to write an SOP:

With pen and paper in hand, sit and think. Go through the motions of the procedure and jot down in point form the steps you are going through from start to finish. Next, open up the template and begin to fill in the ‘easy’ categories (PPE and materials). Type out your quick list in the procedural category. If you can come up with a scope or responsibility at this time, go ahead, though it may be easier to leave for last. Gather your references if needed and start writing out each procedural step in full. Make sure to document your references.

Congratulations, your rough draft is complete! Now you can review it several times, have peers and managers review it, and edit it as needed. When finished, print the final draft, sign it and have the manager sign it so it can be filed away in an SOP manual.

Why develop an SOP?

An SOP will serve as framework for organizational policy – providing direction and structure. Having SOPs will provide written documentation of best practice, recording present knowledge and experience for other rehabilitators. SOPs can build a foundation for job descriptions, training, disciplinary action and performance review.

Building a SOP library will begin to standardize processes, assuring consistent work across employees and volunteers. The resource that SOPs provide reduces questions and improves training practices. These SOPs can be shared across centres, improving best care practices. Expectations of employees can be documented using SOPs, keeping workers accountable and ensuring best patient care by providing step by step instructions.

Helpful hints:

Start with what you have. Use current protocols or start with small daily tasks that you are confident performing (e.g. cleaning songbird enclosures). Find where your task fits. Not everything needs an SOP; surgeries and rescues cannot be predicted and therefore cannot have SOPs. When a task includes “ifs,” a policy or protocol may be more fitting.

WRA Example SOP on fecal flotations