Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mortimer Needs A Sponsor

Hi. My name is Mortimer, and Kindra says I am the world’s sweetest groundhog. I am also this week’s “CLAWS Animal of the Week”. I am looking for a sponsor. How cool would it be to tell your friends you sponsor a whistlepig? Where do you humans come up with these names? I’ve seen what you call pigs…um, they don’t even have any fur, people.

My favorite pastimes are breaking out of my cage, redecorating the human dwelling to make it more animal compatible, such as creating “caves” in the walls of the kitchen, and entertaining people.

I am very smart and mechanically inclined, and I like to amuse myself. They use these huge clamps to try to keep me in my cage. So periodically, when I am bored, I will remove them and hide them in my blankets, and go for a walkabout. Sometimes I do a little remodeling, other times I help Kindra out by cleaning off the counters. She claims that moving everything from the counters to the floor is NOT being helpful. It is certainly not my fault that I don’t know where the stuff belongs. Obviously they don’t either since they put it on the counter instead of putting it away in the first place. Sheesh!

I really enjoy being the ambassador from the GGSS (Giant Ground Squirrel Society) to all the little humans we visit. I am in great demand on Groundhog Day. Kindra says I’m probably the only groundhog that didn’t bite his handler. Apparently my fellow ‘hogs don’t realize how fun you humans can be! I LOVE being part of CLAWS educational programs and promoting interspecies understanding.

I’m going to be at the event this coming Sunday (May 2) at Southern Village in Chapel Hill if you want to come meet me. You’ll want to sponsor me after you meet me. I’m totally irresistible. Kindra used to have to frisk people before they left to make sure they weren’t trying to smuggle me out under their shirts. Now you’d look like you were suddenly 9 months pregnant if you tried that.

So, smuggling is out, but sponsoring is IN!


Friday, April 23, 2010

First fawn of the season, Woody

The decision on whether or not to rehabilite deer here at CLAWS this year was still up in the air. Until that call came in! Knowing there was a fawn out there who was not going to be returned to his mother, where he should have stayed, how could we say "no"?

This year more than any, deciding whether or not to rehabilitate deer was a tough one. Every year, at the end of fawn season, after dealing with so many people who just won't listen to reason, we say "maybe not next year". Then that first call comes in and the decision is made. But rehabilitating fawn is one of the most expensive things we do, and this year, that was a serious, serious concern.

With the economy being so poor, all non-profits, but especially for those helping "non traditional" animals. Most years, we have to supplement the deer formula with our personal income. This year, with Vinny being laid off, that's just not going to be possible.

So, while I couldn't say no when I got the call, as soon as I said "yes", I started to worry how on earth we were going to pay for it!

Imagine my surprise when our fans started "stepping up" and OFFERING to help buy formula! After all of the deer "overpopulation" meetings I've been in, it was so heartwarming to see how many people still have huge hearts and care if a baby, who was taken from his mother, lives, grows and becomes a healthy member of the wild world! It brought me to tears!

And poor little Woody! Walking behind mom, barely 24 hours, and he's snatched up by a human, who decided that the woods were too dangerous for a baby. Even a baby who is WITH his mother!

So sad that a human can be so selfish! But then so heartwarming that so many others care what happens to this poor little victim of a kidnapping!

Thank you ALL!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Life as a wildlife rehabilitator

Life as a rehabilitator isn't always easy, it's not always fun, often it's messy, sometimes gross, but, at the end of the day, it is always rewarding, because you always know that you did your best to help one or more helpless animals. That is why we do this. Not to make things easy, fun or clean for ourselves, but to help the helpless.

I always say that my "job" as a rehabber is to help these animals to the next phase of their life. We always hope that phase is to be wild and free. Sometimes that is not possible. With some, they can't be released and must live life out in captivity, others just need a comfortable, quiet place to pass from this life to whatever comes next. It's the part of the "job" we hate, but it is also a necessary part. In many cases, without a rehabilitator, these animals would die in horrible pain. If we can just relieve some of the pain and the fear, then we have done our "job".

This is why I also always say "rehabilitating wildlife is one of the most heartbreaking and most rewarding "jobs" I've ever had, all at the same time"!

Thankfully, the successes are far, far more than the failures! Here at CLAWS, we have an 86% success rate! That is very high for most facilities, but especially high for a small non-profit with no paid employees and very few people to care for the animals.

Some may ask "well, why don't you let more people come in and help with animal care?". There have been many studies done that prove that the fewer people a rehabilitating wild animal sees, the better it's chances of survival in the wild. Having many people caring for the animals can do two things; 1. We won't know the individual animals as well. This means we can miss subtle changes in behavior or look, that nobody may think to write down for the next caretaker, but if caught early can mean the difference between life and death. 2. Releasing an animal that is used to many humans runs the risk of having that animal think that humans are where they should go for food. Wild animals need a healthy fear of humans. It would be dangerous for both them and the humans if they walked or flew up to get food.

As I said earlier, rehabilitation is not about our comfort, but what is best for the animals. So, we choose to rehabilitate these animals with very limited human access.

The one big down side to that, is that it gives us much less time to work on other aspects of CLAWS, like fundraising, seeking out grants, putting together beautiful displays for events, etc. etc. etc.

If you want to help wildlife, yet cannot commit the time to caring for them around the clock, there are other ways you can help. Help raise funds to help support wildlife in rehabilitation. Be a transporter! Transporters pick up animals in need and transport them to the rehabilitators. If you think you can commit the time, then just ask, we are more than happy to apprentice you to do this yourself!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Transporter Fun!!!

So you'd like to help Claws but you really aren’t sure how? Want to help in a HUGE way but can only help on from time to time? Become a Claws Transporter!!! How does that work? Easy, it’s like a phone tree. Claws receives a call in your area about an animal in need….they call you to see if you can pick up the animal and meet them closer to their location so they aren’t spending all their time traveling back and forth across the Triangle.

They will train you on how to handle the animals safely for transport. It only takes 30 minutes to an hour and allows them to focus on animal care where their expertise is needed most. Triage, feeding and cleaning takes up a lot of time during rehab seasons! Everyone gets busy and maybe you can’t help every time but if you were able to help out even a couple of times a month it would be a HUGE help!

My family and I volunteer with Claws at events when we can but more regularly we help transport animals in need. It’s been very rewarding. Not only do we have contact with lots of different species of animals we normally only see in the wild (it’s really amazing to see these animals up close) but afterwards you know you helped that animal get the care it needed faster. In the process you will learn amazing tidbits and facts about the animals you transport! Did you know that baby crows have blue eyes??? Or that baby flying squirrels are born furless, weighing only 3 to 5 grams? How about the fact screech owls come in two color phases, red and gray?!

You may love transporting so much that you decide you want to rehabilitate wildlife yourself! And in that case, Claws can train you to do that as well and help you become permitted with the state. Transporting is the perfect way to get a little taste of what it’s like to be a wildlife rehabber! Come join the Claws team!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alf's Almost Snack

For those of you who hadn’t heard, we lost our beloved Alf, the world’s most awesome red screech owl, at the end of December. When you work with as many animals as we do at CLAWS, especially doing rehab, there are a lot of losses. They are never easy, but some are harder than others. Alf’s loss has been one of the hardest. He was an amazing little owl. He would be glaring at me right now for daring to use such an adjective (the “little”, not the amazing…he quite liked that one).

To help Kindra with the CLAWS Blog, I thought I’d share one of my favorite Alf stories with you. It was during rehab season and Kindra and Vinny were feeding a batch of baby squirrels (very small, hairless little things). I was over visiting and had Alf perched on my shoulder. The squirrels were in a large critter keeper (a large clear plastic box with a special lid that allows airflow) and I noticed Alf was staring at it like people check out the lobster tank at a restaurant.

He was observing Vinny very intently as he took out each little squirrel to feed it with a syringe. I started joking around telling Alf that I would try to acquire him one. Kindra expressly forbid me. While we were talking, one of the house cats snuck into the kitchen. In his haste to get the cat out of the kitchen, Vinny unthinkingly hands me the baby squirrel he was feeding. Alf immediately perks up like “Yes! We did it! We have a squirrel!” Then Kindra turns into Kwai Chang Caine (snatch the pebble from my hand grasshopper) and snatches that squirrel from me. The look on Alf’s face clearly said, “You ‘owl expletive deleted’! That was mine!”

Kindra then gave Vinny a lecture on why you don’t give a mind-controlled servant of a screech owl a tiny baby squirrel!


Alf's Devoted Servant

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kiwi is learning

Since everybody else is blogging, I thought you guys should hear from a coopers hawk point of view. Hi, my name is Kiwi.
I was given to CLAWS by an officer who confiscated me from a lady who was keeping me illegally. I had a beak that looked like a set of stairs from me banging into wire all the time. Somebody amputated half of my wing, but nobody really knows why.
So, then I'm told that I have to educate children or the feds say I can't live. Well, I'm not much of a people bird, considering my first experience with humans, but dead didn't sound great.
So, I've been educating kids for a while now and have finally started to understand why we do this. WOW, humans really don't know a lot about us? Not that I'd expect kids to, but some adults don't. So, I think I'm doing something important now, since humans really need to learn a LOT about those they share this planet with!
I did a program today with some really great kids and adults and I behaved great, except that whole getting back in the cage thing. I hate that part! But, they say I'll learn not to hate that so much either.
I do miss chasing down birds and eating them, but I guess if this is my other choice, it's not so bad. Humans bring me food every day, clean my cage, give me water and basically provide for all my care. A little easier than chasing down my own food.
Hope to meet you all soon!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My final week at CLAWS

I've been told this is my last week here at CLAWS. I've been working on my flying and hunting skills for 3 months now, so it's about time!!!
It's been ok being here. I didn't like the force feedings at first, so I learned that eating on my own was a MUCH better plan. But, when I first got here, my brains were a little scrambled from a big car smashing into me!
After being here so long, I know I'm one of the lucky ones. Some of my comrades here having been as lucky as I have, they sustained far worse injuries and will have to live with humans forever.
Even knowing that I'm a lucky one though, I'm ready to go, get out of her, and never have to be at eye level with a human again! I dream of soaring high above these humans and seeing them as they are supposed to be, just specks below me!
I'm told it will be this week, keep your fingers and talons crossed that it will be this week. I've got a mate to go find, babies to make and boy do I need a change in diet! Much more variety out there in the wild!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The wild piggy report

Here we were, just about a week old, hanging out with our mom in the woods, when some man decided to make a very loud sound. Our mom fell down and the man took us away.
He gave us to a very nice lady who said we were precious, but she wasn't allowed to keep us. It apparently isn't legal in this state to rehabilitate wild boar and release us back into the wild. So we had to go to a place that could rescue us and find us a permanent human home.
So, we went on a long car ride to meet the people of CLAWS. At first we were tiny and a little bit bratty. As in we SCREAMED every time our new mommy picked us up.
Well, it's been a few weeks now, we've grown a lot and we are runnin' this place! Our mommy says that when we run we sound like a bunch of little horses!
She's got this insane power though! She touches us in one spot on our back and FLOP, we fall over and can't get back up until she finishes rubbing our bellies! Boy do we love belly rubs!
We are more on solid foods now, and getting bigger by the day (though we are still smaller than the tiny dogs here!), so now our new mommy says it's almost time to find our permanent, and forever home.
She gets real sad and picks us up and gives us big hugs when she talks about it. We let her pick us up without screaming now. We kinda feel sorry for her. I mean who thinks its fun to pick up piggies?
We have to go to a place that will keep us penned, hopefully in a LARGE pen, so we can never be feral again.
And after living like "city pigs" for so long, we really would prefer to stay that way!
We don't really want to leave our mommy, but if we have to, then we trust her to find a nice home for us. We just hope she lets them know that when we jump on their leg, we are just playing! And cleaning our snout on their shoes is a sign of love!
And don't tell mommy, but we also hope our new humans learn to rub bellies! We LOVE belly rubs!!!
Well, gotta run a few more laps, then pass out for the night. That's how we are, full speed ahead and drop like a rock!
Only way to be!

Peace all, have a great night!

The list never seems to shrink!

Every morning I get up, kiss those that need/want kisses and start the day with feeding, cleaning floors, answering the phone, answering the phone (you can put that down a hundred more times or so), then I make a list of the things that need to get done that day.
By the end of every day, many things are crossed off the to do list, but just as many have been added to that same list.
It would be nice, once in a while, to have the list shrink, just a little!