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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.

Together, we give knowledge

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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.

Recent Journal Abstracts Issue 36(2)

The full papers can be found in the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation 36(2), available to all IWRC members.

CASE STUDY: IATROGENIC DIABETES MELLITUS IN A KOALA (PHASCOLARCTOS CINEREUS) RECEIVING TREATMENT WITH PREDNISOLNE

Sheridan E Lathe

ABSTRACT: Diabetes mellitus is a well recognized condition in human and veterinary medicine that can be induced by the administration of glucocorticoids. Prednisolone is a glucocorticoid used to treat inflammation in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). A free-living koala from the South Australian Mount Lofty Ranges population received treatment with prednisolone for the treatment of pruritis and skin inflammation. Clinical signs of diabetes mellitus developed in this koala during treatment with prednisolone and resolved after cessation of treatment.

KEY WORDS: Australia, diabetes, iatrogenic diabetes mellitus, koala, prednisolone

CAPTIVE ENRICHMENT FOR OWLS (STRIGIFORMES)
Aurora Potts

ABSTRACT: Owls (Strigiformes) have been a source of fascination for wildlife rehabbers, zookeepers, falconers, and many others throughout history. They can be slow to learn and difficult to work with. Their behavior is quite different from diurnal raptors because of their unique nocturnal adaptations. Given their popularity as education and flight demonstration birds, captive owls offer researchers and observers a chance to observe how these animals interact with the world around them. Enrichment is an important component of keeping any animal mentally and physically healthy in captivity, but devising enrichment for owls can be challenging. A survey (Appendix A) was sent to 622 wildlife rehabilitation centers, raptor centers, nature centers, zoos, falconers, and similar institutions across the United States in an effort to determine the success and failure of various methods of enrichment for various owl genera, as well as imprints versus non-imprints. Significant findings suggest distinct correlations between imprints and non-imprints for both successful and failed enrichment among Bubo and Tyto species, respectively. Additionally, significant correlations were measured between imprints and non-imprints among all owl genera for successful and failed enrichment.

KEYWORDS: owl, genera, enrichment, zoo, wildlife, rehabilitation, cognitive abilities, animal welfare, falconry, husbandry, captivity

Recent Journal Abstracts Issue 36(1)

The full papers can be found in the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation 36(1), available to all IWRC members.

Strategies for captive rearing and reintroduction of orphaned bears

John J. Beecham, I. Kati Loeffler, and Richard A. Beausoleil

Abstract: Placing orphan bears in captive-rearing facilities and releasing them back to the wild is a management option that has been used for decades. This option has conservation implications that extend beyond obvious welfare benefits, including public support for management programs, maintenance of genetic diversity, and restoration of bear populations. However, the method is infrequently used because of concerns about survival, ethics, and that captive-reared bears may become involved in conflict with people. As a result, many orphaned bears are unnecessarily euthanized. The objectives of captive-rearing and reintroduction are to liberate animals with the necessary physical condition and life skills to survive in the wild, avoid conflicts with humans, and minimize disease and genetic risks to indigenous wildlife populations. Approaches to achieve these objectives vary among rehabilitators, geographic areas, and bear species. We identify components of captive-rearing and reintroduction practices that can be applied across the range of ursids. Releasing orphaned bears back to the wild is a defensible management alternative, and we advocate for agencies to implement the proposed strategies.

Trends in wildlife intake at a rehabilitation center in Central Alberta: A retrospective analysis of birds, mammals, and herptiles, from 1990 through 2012

Dawn Doell and David A. Locky

Abstract: Using patient data from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton,
we assessed reasons for admission, overall success of rehabilitation, and compared temporal trends with human population growth in the region. Over the survey period 13,375 individuals from 271 species were admitted. These included 11,637 birds (87%), 1,727 mammals (13%), and 11 herptiles (<0.1%). Outcome data were not reliably collected from 1990 through 2007 so it is not possible to provide a valid rate of the rehabilitated animal release for those years. However, starting in 2008 outcome data was collected for the majority of animals with the average release rate of 45.7% from 2008 through 2012. There was a strong relationship between Edmonton’s population growth and the annual intake of wildlife (R² = 0.84, F = 104.6, P = 0.001). This study provides an overview of wildlife intake trends from 1990 through 2012 and is the first known published retrospective of wildlife intake in Alberta.

Consider Animal Welfare When Generating Center Income: Part 1

BIO  Fran Bell

I am a wildlife rehabber from Perth, Western Australia. Over the last 6 years I have practiced wildlife rehabilitation in Australia, South Africa, and the UK; and worked with marsupials, placental mammals, birds and reptiles. I have undertaken several internships, including a year with penguins and other seabirds at SANCCOB in Capetown. I am a member of the IWRC and the West Australian Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. I hold two certificates in Wildlife Management, have been trained in venomous snake capture and release, have Certified Wildlife Rehabber status and am also a certified Marine Mammal Medic. In my free time I work on animal rights and welfare causes around the world.

 

In my time as a rehabber, I’ve seen wildlife centres who operate at different levels. I’ve seen those staffed by paid vets and rehabbers, outfitted with beautiful surgeries and stocked with a wide range of drugs as well as top quality food and supplementation. I’ve seen those who can’t afford paid staff but who have access to enthusiastic staff at nearby vet clinics, and can provide adequate nutrition and housing. And at the other end of the scale, I’ve seen those who operate on a shoestring and can’t afford a consultant vet, antibiotics for treatments, or remotely appropriate food.

What this mostly boils down to is funding.   Some centres are wizards at getting government grants, having corporate sponsors, and partnering with universities or the very wealthy. Other centres develop creative ideas for community fundraising. The question is, where do these places draw the line in their quest for money, and how do they balance that with animal welfare?

I’ve seen one under-funded centre use student and public “training days” as a way to bring in funds.

  1. Bring in veterinary students from the local university.

Students were given lectures in their morning session. After that came a “practical”. The practical consisted of the senior rehabber having up to 20 vet students crowded into the small hospital, all surrounding one terrified animal. Tube feeding was demonstrated. A new bird was then taken from a cage and a complete novice – a tube-feeding virgin, you might say – was invited to practice on a live animal. The next in line were young birds who did not require tube feeding, but who were able to swallow. They were subjected to potentially damaging diets and feeding techniques and as I looked at the faces around me, I realised that even some of these naïve vet students were not so convinced that what they were being shown was of any value.

The practical finished up by the students being invited to cuddle barn owl chicks and young fox kits.

  1. Bring in the public.

Training days with the public were more of the same, but with more people and less lectures. In hindsight that may have been a good thing as less misinformation was passed on, but I still worried that members of the public would leave the centre thinking that there was nothing much to wildlife rehab, and that they would all be fully competent to commence wildlife rehab operations under their own roofs.

Every single component of the training day gave me grave cause for concern regarding the welfare of the animals. Noise levels were completely unacceptable. Prolonged, incompetent and unnecessary handling was also completely unacceptable. As wildlife rehabbers, we know that both these factors add up to a lot of stress. We know how badly stress affects an animal’s ability to heal and thrive. I’m sure we’ve all, at one time or another, seen birds who literally drop dead from stress.   We also know that habituation of a wild animal to human contact severely limits the likelihood of a successful release.

Every animal handled or fed by a member of the public or an untrained vet student ran the risk of being seriously injured. Proper techniques for restraining animals were not demonstrated. Appropriate techniques for feeding were not taught. Mammals and birds aspirated after being incorrectly fed. Birds refused to eat because rough feeding had damaged their throats. Birds died from head injuries due to rough handling.

Every animal handled and fed ran the risk of disease. Hands were not washed. Gloves were not worn. A single tube was used for every crop feeding, regardless of age or presenting condition. Animals were passed from person to person with no thought of what could be transmitted from one to the other.

On training days every animal handled also had to wait for the appearance of the trainees to be fed. The normal routine was abandoned. Birds were left hungry for upwards of an hour because the public had paid to be “trained”.

With the quality of information and ‘training’ being so poor, attendees were likely to cause unintentional harm to animals they came across in the future. The interactive training days increased admissions and infused the centre with ready cash. Ultimately the centre’s mission could be hurt much more than helped, and any funds raised swallowed up in increased care costs.

Training days in other centres I’ve worked with are solely for those who have already made a commitment to helping wildlife. They mostly focus on theoretical knowledge in a classroom well away from patients with “hands-on”, if appropriate, on a strictly supervised one-on-one basis. There may be a small fee to cover costs but the focus is not on raising funds – it’s on professional development. I remember when I attempted my first tube feeding. It was after a lengthy lecture, a couple of demonstrations by rehabbers with many years experience, and then the small class was invited to practice on deceased animals who had been kept solely for teaching purposes. Even when I began tube feeding live animals, I worked under the supervision of a suitably experienced mentor.

Training days are one avenue of raising funds but, when animal welfare and perhaps even survival is severely compromised, the question is – should they be? 

 

 

Conserve Wildlife, Generate Energy

World Migratory Bird Day Poster featuring Siberian crane flying in front of drawn energy power sources and map of worldLast Saturday, May 9th was World Migratory Bird Day (2015 theme Energy: make it bird friendly) and International Migratory Bird Day (2015 theme Restore Habitat, Restore Birds).  Why there are different themes and names for the Eastern and Western hemisphere's is a different topic and one beyond my scope. But there is a link between the themes. Many rehabilitators have seen the results of wildlife tangling with power generation sources International Migratory Bird Day Poster featuring vertical drawings of birds in grassland, mashland, backyards, and mangroves. Restore Habitat, Restore Birds - electrocutions, burns, amputations, and habitat destruction. This is frustrating and often heartbreaking. Wildlife rehabilitation has a role to play in improving the conservation quotient of renewable energy.

 

Wildlife rehabilitators routinely collect data on animal intakes. By recording and reporting intake locations and reasons for intake, we can help scientists and policy makers discover if a given energy collecting device impacts local wildlife. Do you live near or receive wildlife from a traditional or renewable energy source? Contact your wildlife permit officer and ask if they would like you to submit reports on intakes from that region.

Not all power generation is created equal. The enormous Ivanpah solar farms, in California’s Mojave desert, use heliostats to generate concentrated solar power. The site was in the news last year as a “death ray frying birds”1. Not good. But that certainly doesn't mean solar power is bad. The US Fish and Wildlife Service provided the Ivanpah farm with suggested mitigation methods to prevent bird deaths2 and the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) embraces the creation of photovoltaic arrays on existing human built structures and ground built arrays in non-sensitive habitat areas3.

The path to creating and maintaining wildlife friendly energy is planning, proper placement, risk assessment, mitigation, and continuous monitoring4. In Spain, shutting off wind farms during migration reduced mortality of griffon vultures by 50% and only caused a 1% loss in energy production5. A small solar farm in Germany chose a location that had previously been a gravel pit. The farm includes wetland and grassland habitat and permeable borders to allow small mammals, ground birds, and amphibians to transit safely6.

Rooftop solar array with Oregon oak in background Photo: Kai Williams

In my home (aka IWRC's headquarters) I put in a rooftop solar array of 48 photovoltaic panels that will provide up to 12 kilowatts of energy per hour - which covers all of IWRC's on site energy needs! This home-based system is one more small step to renewable energy and one that fits with what the World Wildlife Fund terms harmony with humans and nature7.

Plaque reading Lane Electric net-metered photovoltaic generation site

Resources

http://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org/energy

http://migratorysoaringbirds.undp.birdlife.org/sites/default/files/factsheet%20Solar%20Partner%20new%20logo%20PR.pdf

  1. Sweet C. The $2.2 Billion Bird-Scorching Solar Project. WSJ Online Article. 2014 Feb 13.
  2. RenewableEnergyWorld.com. Preventing Bird Deaths at Solar Power Plants, Part 1. Renewable Energy World. 2014 Sep 11 [accessed 2015 May 13]. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/09/preventing-bird-deaths-at-solar-power-plants-part-1
  3. Trouvilliez J, Zurita P. Solar Energy Policy Briefing. 2014 Dec.
  4. Birds and Solar Energy within the Rift Valley/ Red Sea Flyway. BirdLife International Migratory Soaring Birds Project Solar Energy Guidance.
  5. Opinion: Renewable Energy – How to Make It More Bird-Friendly | Inter Press Service. [accessed 2015 May 13]. http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/05/opinion-renewable-energy-how-to-make-it-more-bird-friendly/
  6. Science For Environment Policy. Wind & solar energy and nature conservation. European Union; 2014. Report No.: Brief 9.
  7. Archambault A. Solar PV Atlas: Solar power in harmony with nature. Denruyter J-P, Mulder L, editors. WWF; 2012.

Financial Preparedness

This month, we delve into the topic of preparedness during a disaster, seen here in our blog entry last week. This week, we sat down with our board member and Treasurer, Mike Davidson to talk about financial preparedness in an event of an emergency. Mike is a senior auditor with Isler CPA, the IWRC's accounting firm, and has experience in not-for-profit and financial institution audits, review of internal control and policy, and a strong knowledge in bookkeeping and review.

What are some financial advice you can give to non-profit organizations in case of a disaster?

Well, the most obvious is to have some form of back-up available. For example, if you are using QuickBooks Online (an online accounting software), it needs to be backed up. They do that pretty much already since it's online and everything is cloud-based and off-site. If your location gets hit by a meteor, your organization will be fine, from a financial perspective.

With changes in the economy, you also need to have some form of reserve, savings, or unrestricted asset (whether cash or donation) that does not have a specific restriction on it by the donor for a specific purpose. That's a big deal. Basically, having a plan is the most obvious way to go about it. It's always best to think ahead in the future and not plan for next week. A good budget process helps in that, because you're essentially saying, "We have a limited amount of assets and resources, so how do we spend these resources wisely?"

Are these financial steps different from what for-profit corporations would do?

There are similarities, but in the corporate world, the focus is based more on product lines and how these divisions will be affected by changes in the market. In the event of a disaster, some areas get affected but some others don't. But in non-profit organizations, what is the overall community's opinion towards giving? That's one thing to be prepared for. While corporations are thinking about how their customers and products might be affected, the non-profit organization is more concerned about the community based in the particular industry: who will still support this cause?

What kind of information do you need to gather from donors when they donate?

Besides basic biographical information, tax information is needed too for tax deduction purposes. The most important thing is to understand if the donor has placed any restrictions on the donation. At the end of the year, we need to disclose big restrictions on our funds; money that can only be spent on a certain cause, and if you don't, the donor has the right to take their money back. It's important to track donations – what's given and restricted and to ensure it matches accordingly to our expenses.

During the end of the year, what does a non-profit organization need to do financially?

When you're closing down your year, it involves a review of your transactions, balance sheets, income statements and asking yourself, "Are we complete?" Transactions such as invoices and bills  that should have been recorded the previous year but have been received in the current year record an accrual.

The next question is if we are ready to present the statements to the board and to answer questions they might have. The board will be interested in the net position of the organization, which basically means how financially well-off are we? We can see right away how we're doing in comparison to last year and that helps to make decisions in the next year, be it understanding our givers and changing what we're doing to be able to make our community donate more to our cause.

Peer-Review Process

Why do we have peer review?

As wildlife rehabilitation is a fairly new profession, the credibility of the field and the work of wildlife rehabilitators are constantly questioned. IWRC's courses are science-based with live classroom courses and online training options to choose from. In order to meet minimum knowledge standards, IWRC's courses, journals and books are peer-reviewed and developed by professionals from different aspects of wildlife rehabilitation and medicine. These resources are both single- or double-blind reviewed and addressed to a scientific audience as well as individuals who are not from a science-based background.

However, webinars and web content are reviewed differently and are mostly evaluated by professionals or volunteers prior to publishing online, instead of undergoing a full peer review process.

 

What are the different types of peer review?

1. Single-blind review process: The reviewers are not identified to the author but the reviewers are aware of the author's identity.

The advantage of this process is that it allows unbiased decisions by the author that are free from influence as the reviewers are anonymous. However, the authors may be concerned that reviewers from the same field may delay the review in order to delay publication as this enables the reviewers to publish first1.

2. Double-blind review process: The identities of authors and reviewers are concealed from each other.

This method is the most effective for journals with material that is free from referencing geographic study areas to ensure that research authors are not easily identified when a study area is described in a manuscript. However, reviewers can sometimes identify the author through the paper's style or subject matter1.

 

The Peer-Review Process
Adapted from The Wildlife Professional
Adapted from The Wildlife Professional

Peer reviewers are not perfect -- as humans, they make mistakes too. However, peer reviewing verifies that the best science and practices are used. It is also "the best system we have been able to devise in order to maintain the integrity of the scientific publication process," according to Leonard Brennan, former editor of the Wildlife Society Bulletin2.

 

References:

1White, G. More than 50 shades of gray. The Wildlife Professional. 2014;8: 22
2Brennan, L. Editorial guidance and wildlife science: the role of wildlife society bulletin associate editors and reviewers. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 2012;36(2):396