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!

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