Tagged Collaboration

Fire Season Tips

Part II of a short series

Animals in fires suffer from direct thermal injury as well as injuries from inhalation of chemicals and particulate debris. Certainly burns to the skin are the most obvious, but burns and damage to the respiratory tract from smoke inhalation should not be underestimated. If an animal is close enough to a fire to be burned, it has experienced respiratory injury. If wildfires involve human structures, the smoke plume may contain a mixture of concentrated toxins from incinerated plastics, petroleum products, and other chemicals. The particles can cause primary toxicity and pulmonary damage; external particles on the  animal could transfer and cause problems in human handlers. Proper PPE is essential. Survivors of wildfires present with complications including dehydration, starvation, and traumatic injuries.

 

Most respiratory injuries and thermal burns will worsen in the 2-4 days after they are acquired. However, in some cases, it can take weeks for damage to fully manifest. Treatment is highly invasive, stressful, painful, and costly. Even with gold standard care many animals will not recover enough to be released. It is therefore necessary to have clear and rigorous triage protocols, especially when faced with large scale casualties.  

 

Working closely with a veterinarian will be essential. Burns are painful and most cases require regulated, controlled pharmaceuticals for sedation and analgesia. In addition, debridement and wound care will need to be done under anesthesia in the initial stages. Animals suffering from smoke inhalation will need oxygen therapy, nebulization, ongoing radiographs, and other diagnostic testing. Work with your veterinarian to establish protocols for victims of wildfires before you need them. Quick evaluation, euthanasia, or stabilization will be vital for the welfare of the animal when it arrives in your facility. 

 

Key aspects of triage and treatment for the rehabilitator. 

Triage and Stabilization

  • Triage – “Burns covering 40-50% of the body have a high chance of mortality from sequelae (hypoproteinemia, sepsis, etc.) in domestic animals.” 1
    • Burns may be classified as:
      •  Superficial – Some layers of epidermis still intact
      •  Deep – The dermis is exposed and possibly damaged 
        • Deep burns require advanced treatment, and may not regrow hair or feathers.
        • Burns to the limbs, especially the pedal surfaces, which expose tendon/bone/joints or musculature are not compatible with release.
    • Mucous membranes –  Bright, cherry red gums are indicative of carbon monoxide poisoning
      • Give oxygen therapy without delay.
    • Eyes – Conjunctivitis, due to smoke and particulates, is not uncommon. Lids and corneas may have thermal burns.
      • Flush the eyes with sterile aqueous drops 
      • If you have the tools and training check for corneal ulcers.
      • Apply sterile ophthalmic treatments per species recommendations 
        • No steroids should be applied
    • Ocular and respiratory damage may require euthanasia as a first option.

 

  • Restore Normothermia – Use room temperature isotonic crystalloids to restore normothermia in patients presenting with hyperthermia of fresh burns.
    • Be careful not to cause hypothermia in your patient.
  • Fluid Therapy – Promotes normothermia, tissue perfusion, and mitigates shock.
    • An IV or IO catheter may be necessary if burns cover areas used for SQ administration.
  • Analgesia – Immediately start species appropriate multimodal analgesia.

 

Smoke Inhalation

  • Oxygen therapy is the most important aspect of treating smoke inhalation. 
    • Place the animal in an oxygen chamber.
      • A DIY oxygen chamber can be created quite cheaply, you can find many different plans online at various price points. 
      • Oxygen chambers should have a thermometer and hygrometer inside to monitor and optimize temperature and humidity for your patient.
      • Ensure an opening for venting of carbon dioxide.
  • Appropriate Antibiotics 
      • Chemical and bacterial pneumonia is common after smoke inhalation
      • Monitor with radiographs and/or bloodwork before, during, and after starting antibiotics.
  • Treat anxiety
    • Close confinement and respiratory distress exacerbate anxiety in a wild animal, which in turn makes those conditions even worse. Tranquilization and sedation may be necessary during treatment.
    • Rigorous hospital protocols must include quiet, calm, or even dark conditions with visual and auditory barriers between patients.

 

Burns

Once you have stabilized your patient you can begin wound management for the burns. 

    • For Superficial burns
      • Clip any remaining hair. Do not remove feathers.
      • Lavage away soot or debris. (Several cleaning sessions may be required) 
      • Apply a water based topical to the burn to increase moisture and prevent bacterial growth 
        • Honey, Silver Sulfadiazine (SSD), etc.
      • Cover with a non-adherent (Telfa) or hydrogel bandage
    • For Deep burns
      • Consult with your veterinarian on a plan of action, anesthesia will be needed for debriding and cleaning.
      • In the interim apply a recommended topical to the wound and cover with a non-adherent bandage.
      •  Be prepared for euthanasia; cleaning may reveal more damage than anticipated.
    • Most burns require daily bandage changes at minimum. Your veterinarian may have suggestions to decrease invasive treatments.
    • Monitor the burn. Remember, it may become worse over the next 2-4 days.
    • Maintaining cleanliness of the environment, the animal, and the ICU/container is absolutely essential. Biosecurity to protect the animal from human pathogens includes all appropriate PPE and sterile techniques where applicable.

 

Long-term Care

  • Rehabilitation of wildfire victims takes much longer than normal rehabilitation
    • Likelihood for secondary problems is very high. 
    • Pre-planning must include budgeting for greater than usual expenses and length of stay.
  • Superficial burns to the feet may be treatable and compatible with release, but it may take months to determine. 
  • Singed feathers may require an entire molt cycle (up to 2 years in some species) if imping is not possible. 
  • There may not be an appropriate release site in the aftermath of a large fire. Pre-planning should include this eventuality.
  • Long-term care should include options for supplemental feeding and water after release, especially if habitat is in recovery.

* This document does not replace information or recommendations from your veterinarian.

Works Cited:

      1. Macintire, Douglas K, et al. Manual of Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care Medicine. 2nd ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012.

If you would like more information on Fluid Therapy, Pain Management, or Wound Management consider taking the IWRC’s online courses on these subjects or read about them in Wildlife Rehabilitation: A Comprehensive Approach.

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   

 

Wildlife Disease Association 68th Annual International Conference (Part 2)

Tahoe City was in bloom and had beautiful weather for the duration of the conference.

The following is the second in a short series of posts from IWRC staff and board members who attended the WDA Conference at Granlibakken Resort in Tahoe City, California USA in August 2019

 

Q&A with Julissa Angius

 

What were your favorite talks/papers?
(in no particular order)

“They’re always there”: Characterizing rat exposure and its consequences among residents of an impoverished, inner-city neighborhood in Vancouver, Canada presented by Dr. Chelsea G. Himsworth

This not not only gave an interesting look at how urban rats live and socialize, it gave commentary on the human aspect of those living around and with the rats. This goes into the human and social inequalities in a rather affluent modern city.

White Abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) resilience in the face of extinction: mitigating disease impacts on endangered abalone in a captive breeding program presented by Ms. Blythe Marshman

Just cool because sometimes you don’t think about animals such as these! AND they are going extinct! We just need to be aware of those animals outside of our normal scope.

Integration of Wildlife and Environmental Health into a One Health Approach presented by Dr. Jonathan Sleeman

I am interested on how to integrate the One Health approach into our classes and make it relevant to wildlife rehabilitators. Jonathan is a great speaker and gave some great insight into this subject.

Modeling land-sea transmission of Toxoplasma gondii presented by Dr. Tristan Burgess

Goes into how toxo is transmitted from the land to the sea and those marine creatures affected. Nothing is too big or small to cross-contaminate! Yikes!

Development of a killer whale health database to assess individual and population health of southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) presented by Dr. Forrest Gomez

Illustrates how different organizations can work together with some technology to create an amazing tool that is organized and full of detail to track the health of these animals.

Wildlife Morbidity and Mortality Event Alert System

Early detection of health events through temporal anomalies in wildlife admissions at rehabilitation centers presented by Dr. Pranav Pandit

Whoot! Go Rachel and Devin! Excellent study on how rehabilitators can be an alert system to other wildlife professionals through an accessible database for all!  Bringing the ‘little people’ to the big people table!

 

Did you learn something that wildlife rehabbers should really be aware of or concerned about?

Yes, rehabbers should really invest in going to conferences such as these, not just rehab type conferences, to broaden the mind on what is out there! This is definitely my favorite conference because of its diversity on every level!

 

Were there old friends that you ran into or reconnected with? Did you meet new acquaintances?

Yes! Especially all the IWRC types! We don’t get to see each other in person so much and it’s so beneficial, socially and work wise!

Definitely got to meet and engage with new people that I never would have outside of this conference!

 

Who did you talk about IWRC or wildlife rehabilitation with that perhaps you would only ever have a chance to talk to at a Wildlife Disease Association event?

There is the lovely forensic veterinarian from the forensic lab in Ashland. The new vice-president of WDA and USGS person Tom DeLiberto.

Wildlife Disease Association 68th Annual International Conference

The following is the first in a short series of posts from IWRC staff and board members who attended the WDA Conference at Granlibakken Resort in Tahoe City, California USA in August 2019

A wildlife lovers dream; a 15 minute stroll from Granlibakken to downtown Tahoe City

I’ve recently returned home from the 2019 Wildlife Disease Association Conference, my first one. I highly recommend this meeting to any academic or disease minded rehabilitator (2020 Spain, 2021 Madison, 2022 Georgia, 2023 Australia). The first keynote, by Dr Pieter Johnson focused on community ecology as a tool for understanding parasite interactions and anticipating disease risk. Traditionally these scientific ways of thinking had little overlap. This talk set an excellent conference tone of collaboration across artificial boundaries and a true One Health view of the world.

The attendees were diverse in field, location, language, and age. I was able to spend time with IWRC staff (Julissa), board (Brooke Durham, Mandy Kamps, Pat Latas), members (several!), and instructor (Rob Adamski) and our NWRA colleagues. I was also able to meet with rehabilitators from South Korea (전북야생동물센터 Jeonbuk Wildlife Center) and Chile (Refugio Animal Cascada) researchers in South Sudan, Bangladesh, India, Norway, and Australia, and bend the ear of regulators in several countries about the benefits of wildlife rehabilitation.

Integrating wildlife rehabilitation data for early and enhanced detection of health threats

It wasn’t just me talking about wildlife rehabilitation, though I certainly did enough of that in the corridors and at meals. Several speakers wove wildlife rehabilitation into their talks, even more obtained data from animals brought in to wildlife rehabilitation. Most thrilling was the work that Terra Kelly, Pranav Pandit and their team did, collaborating with WRMD to create a first of its kind early alert system. With buy-in from multiple California rehabilitators, they integrated with the data wildlife rehabilitators were already entering to see trends in disease that spanned beyond a single rehabilitator. Imagine, 2 murres here, 5 there, another 6 over there, and pretty soon a pattern emerges (or doesn’t).

Wildlife rehabilitation centers are “uniquely poised to advance knowledge of threats to wildlife health and populations”

-Pranav Pandit

My takeaway from the 2019 Wildlife Disease Association Conference “Fostering Resiliency in a Time of Change” was that we need a true One Health approach to disease management for the good of all species, and that wildlife rehabilitation must be a player on the ‘big stage’ of global health.

– Kai Williams, Executive Director 

IWRC and BruWILD to Host Wildlife Rescue Class in Brunei

BruWILD logobigblueblacklogo

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 12 2016

IWRC AND BRUWILD TO HOST WILDLIFE RESCUE CLASS IN BRUNEI

BANDAR SERI BEGEWAN, BRUNEI DARUSSALAM The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) and the Brunei Biodiversity & Natural History Society (BruWILD) have teamed up to provide wildlife rescue and rehabilitation training in Brunei. IWRC instructors will travel to Brunei July 25th through 30th to teach courses to 30 participants consisting members from BruWILD, the Wildlife Division (Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism), Universiti Brunei Darussalam and International School Brunei at the Faculty of Science laboratories, Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Funded by the US Embassy and supported by the Brunei Wildlife Division (MPRT), Universiti Brunei Darussalam, and International School Brunei, this training event is the culmination of a year’s collaboration between Liaw Lin Ji, founder and president of BruWILD, and Kai Williams, executive director of The IWRC.

Expanding human development and loss of forest habitats in Brunei Darussalam have forced many wild animals to encroach onto the human environment. The public encounters more wildlife – often in situations of distress from cars, windows, and other human infrastructure, plus greater prevalence of poaching. Animals found dead by roads or caught in the possession of poachers include the silvered-leaf langurs, otters, slow loris, pangolins, among others. This is a matter of concern as some of these species are of conservation significance and regarded as IUCN ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’.

“The increased encounter of injured wildlife in  Brunei requires the urgent need of a proper wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center and a team of trained wildlife rescue and rehabilitators. Realising this necessity, BruWILD has engaged IWRC for their kind assistance in the training and the Wildlife Division for their long-term support in this endeavour.” Through this training, Brunei is equipped with at least 30 trained individuals who can work towards the rehabilitation of Brunei’s wildlife. “We are thankful for the good support from the US Embassy Brunei whose funds enable the realisation of this project, and to UBD and ISB for their support and assistance.”

“We are thrilled to assist BruWILD with their enormous undertaking to provide a trained and effective wildlife rehabilitation team in the country of Brunei” says Williams. “These are some of the best possible circumstances for a training; where we can combine in situ knowledge of wildlife with our instructors’ expertise in wildlife rehabilitation”.

IWRC instructors, Dr Kelli Knight and Lloyd Brown, both Certified Wildlife Rehabilitators (CWRs) are excited to teach Brunei’s conservation biologists the skills and techniques of wildlife rehabilitation while in turn learning about the local ecosystem.

The week will begin with IWRC’s two day flagship course, Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation and will continue with courses in pain management, wound management, parasitology, and zoonoses all geared towards the particulars needed in wildlife rehabilitation. Friday brings special sessions on disaster management, an area of expertise for Brown who has worked in human and animal disaster management for over [x] years, and the public/wildlife interface, an area both instructors are active in every day. In all, participants will gain over 40 hours of continuing education.

Located on the island of Borneo, Brunei is a resource rich country with a vibrant diversity of tropical wildlife ranging from inhabitants of the ocean and mangrove swamps along the coast to primary forests in the hilly inland stretches. We are proud to be working towards the protection of these invaluable habitats for the benefit of the country and its people.

-###-

BruWILD is a local non-government organisation officially formed in April 2014. BruWILD consists of graduates who are biologists with numerous backgrounds of expertise; including botany, herpetology, ornithology, mammal specialist, biochemistry, ecology, and marine life specialist. BruWILD’s aim is to build a future for Brunei where people and nature, sustainable development and natural heritage can coexist and thrive to mutual benefit. It is our mission to provide the best educational support to all local institutions in Brunei Darussalam. Our foundation that is built on the diverse experience and expertise of biologists allow us to also engage, participate and collaborate with government institutions and other non-government bodies in solving, mitigating numerous environmental related problems.

 

The IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife and habitat through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement is “providing science-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to promote wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.” Wildlife rehabilitation is the act of providing temporary care for injured, sick or orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. By providing unique insights into issues affecting wildlife populations, species, and habitats wildlife rehabilitation contributes to wildlife conservation and protection worldwide.

 

International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council
   Contact: Kai Williams, Executive Director  
   Office:  (866) 871-1869
   Fax:     (408) 876-6153
   Email:  director@theiwrc.org

BruWILD
   Contact: Liaw Lin Ji, President
   Office:  (673) 886-9729
   Email:  bruwildorg@gmail.com

PDF of Brunei Press Release (no Images)

Images for Press Release

Pangolin walking through leaf litter. Photo Credit Mahdi Hussaimiya
Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica). One of the most important mammals to conserve as it is categorised as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List. This species is highly exploited, poached for their skins, scales and meat. Their decline requires urgent attention for protection. Photo Credit Mahdi Hussaimiya
Tarsier. Photo credit Jungle Dave and Hakeem Julaihi
Western Tarsier (Tarsius bancanus). This species is considered ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List. Tarsiers suffer from habitat loss due to forest conversion for agriculture and oil palm plantations, as well as illegal pet trade. Photo credit Jungle Dave and Hakeem Julaihi