President’s Report Fall 2011

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From the President’s desk
I am writing this letter from my aunt’s garden in England, for the most part hearing strange bird calls with the odd one I recognize. All punctuated with that odd sound squirrels make, yes I do recognize those, our grey squirrel, now a problem species here in the UK. I have been in Ireland  to attend the Irish Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference and present the IWRC’s Basic Course to a small group of Irish wildlife rehabbers. What a thrill for me to teach the course, but of course I was somewhat  concerned about the differences in species. North American species present no problems, however, my knowledge of species around the world is sufficient to recognize families, but not necessarily species. So my first port of call was the Irish Natural History museum in Dublin. One floor is devoted to the species of Ireland, all collected, read mostly shot and mounted, by the Victorians. It was interesting to see the dates on the specimens which ranged from the mid 1800’s into the early 1900’s. In many specimens, the bullet holes were evident.  It was sad to see, and as one person pointed out, it is locally called the dead zoo. However, it did provide me with a valuable look at the range of species Irish wildlife rehabbers deal with. Not surprisingly, many were either the same or close relatives to those in North America. Sometimes the names stumped me, but looking at the scientific names helped. So, the northern diver is North America’s common loon, Gavier immer. The reality is that the principles of professional wildlife rehab are the same all over the world. But now I was prepared and could use local names and give related species as I presented IWRC’s flagship course. It was such a pleasure to present  it to our colleagues. The course finished, we had a bat box making session. Mine is going to be winging its way over the pond, if I can fit it in my luggage. And that will be quite a challenge.
I then met up with fellow IWRC board member Adam Grogan and attended the conference itself. I had been asked to give several talks, which were fun to prepare and present. The first day was a general rehabbers day, a great chance for the rehab community to get together. The second day was geared to the veterinary community, nurses and vets, with continuing education credit for attending. All in all, it was simply wonderful, of course the accents were amazing too. Next leg, I travelled with Adam to Mallydams near Hastings in southern England. This is one of the RSPCA’s wildlife rehab centers. Again, I presented the Basic Wildlife Rehab course to a small group of rehabbers.  Nights were also special, local pubs and pub meals, pub quizzes, and badger watching. I had the privilege of seeing 5 wild badgers. What a thrill. This week I have so much to look forward to also with visits to my old stomping ground, London Zoo, and several rehab centers, along with a meeting about the plight of oiled birds with the RSPB. I am looking forward to an update on that awful disaster on Tristan de Cunha. The mortality will understandably be high as this is a very remote region with few resources.
It is a treat to meet a so many rehabbers, Irish, English and Scottish, plus a Polish veterinarian! No matter where we are in the world, rehabbers are all committed to the same things; caring for the wildlife we admit, relieving pain and suffering, and growing healthy vibrant youngsters up to become good wild citizens, heading off to live free and wild and make babies.
Back in North America, the Educational Symposium is coming up fast. You can check out the IWRC website for the details. Of course many IWRC members are still inundated with patients. Hopefully you can hand over any late admissions to team members and join us in Florida, the line up is looking great. One other activity we need to work on is the Annual General Meeting. This is required by IWRC by-law and is also an opportunity to report on the state of IWRC. It is also the time to have nominations from the floor for board membership.  If you have skills and time to share them, please consider joining the board. The thing to remember is the time factor. This is a working board and to keep IWRC vibrant, fiscally responsible and relevant to our community takes work. Meetings, both in person and by phone or skype, keep us connected and moving forward. Committee membership is required, so you will need to factor those commitments in if you are considering joining. Plus there is a financial commitment. IWRC does not cover costs associated with meetings. Currently we have a weekend meeting in March or April, plus a meeting at the Symposium. Given the amount of work we cover, there is also a potential to reinstate a third in person meeting. Most months we also get together by phone or skype. The committees also often use skype for their meetings, which does help with cost.  Do you have the time? Can you bring needed skills? Talk to Kai for further information or submit a nomination at
The Basic course  review is coming along. I will ask the committee involved about the images they are seeking and let you know, in case you can help. Digital photography has really revolutionized our world, allowing us to share our cases, both in seeking help and advice, as well as helping our colleagues learn from our experiences.   So please keep taking photos and sharing them with us all.
Talking of courses. The Course Development Committee is really steaming ahead with several new courses in the works. We will prepare a review of them for presenting at the Symposium and then have them available for all IWRC members in the website.
Requests for input to various research projects are occasionally sent to Kai. She will be placing them on the IWRC website. Please have a look, they may be things that are of interest to you personally, and of course, help our wildlife.
Finally, do take time to smell the roses. It is so hard to keep that space for you when every where you turn there is a mouth open waiting for food, a cage to clean, a phone ringing. We are such a special bunch of people because we do give so much of ourselves. From experience however, I can tell you that taking special time to nurture ourselves is well worth it. I am now off to smell the roses! See you in Florida.
PS Are there any veterinarians interested in joining IWRC’s Board of Directors? Please contact me asap.

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