Have you ever wondered what to do if you find an apparently orphaned animal? Please click the following image to hear all about what you should or should not do if you cross paths with juvenile wildlife.
by Tanya Coty (VM16)
The Wildlife Clinic is currently host to an American treasure, a bald eagle, affectionately named George. George arrived at the clinic on October 17, 2013. Two U of I alumni veterinarians saw him by the side of the road near Springfield, after apparently being hit by a car. They made the long trip to bring him to the Wildlife Clinic where he has been receiving care ever since. Radiographs of George’s injured wing indicated that he had a fractured right humerus and a consultation with the ophthalmology department at the teaching hospital revealed that he is blind in his right eye.
George is currently recovering from his wing injury in the clinic until he is ready to go to a rehabilitation center. The Wildlife and Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery department repaired his fracture with a pin in the medullary cavity of his humerus and an external fixator. Once his wing has healed enough for the fixator to be removed, he can leave the clinic.
Caring for an eagle is a unique challenge for the students. While he only weighs 7.7lbs (3.5 kg), George is incredibly strong and equipped with powerful talons and a sharp beak. As a wild animal, he is less than cooperative with treatment. When he initially arrived and while recovering from surgery, he had to be handled twice a day to receive pain medication due to his injuries. The team has since scaled back on handling George to reduce his stress.
In spite of these challenges, George has made excellent progress with his recovery and will hopefully be transferred to a rehabilitation facility soon. There, he will build up strength in his muscles, which have atrophied from weeks of disuse. Birds that are kept in captivity for more than two weeks typically need time to build up their flight muscles before they can be released to the wild. This is especially important for birds of prey, like bald eagles, because they rely on soaring to hunt and survive. The rehabilitation staff will also assess his ability to hunt with his blind eye. Because he is a bald eagle, if George cannot be returned to the wild, he will stay as a “resident” animal in a wildlife center or zoo. This is because bald eagles are protected under federal law, even though they are no longer listed as an endangered species. The Wildlife Clinic has to have a special permit to hold bald eagles for medical care. If you come across an injured bald eagle, please contact US Fish and Wildlife Services or a wildlife rehabilitator. It’s also important to remember that it is illegal to keep feathers, eggs, or other “parts” of a bald eagle.
by Lauren Kane (VM16)
The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) are small shorebirds that breed only in three regions in North America: Atlantic Coast, the Northern Great Plains, and the Great Lakes. Piping plover were listed as threatened and endangered in 1986 and is an endangered species in Illinois. There is estimated to be 2,800 breeding pairs throughout the three North American regions. Breeding habitat has been replaced with shoreline development and recreation, which overtime, decreases the quality foraging and roosting habitat of these birds. Currently, the Fish and Wildlife Services have two main goals to recover this species and remove them from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The first is to achieve well-distributed increases in numbers and productivity of breeding pairs, and secondly, to provide long-term protection of breeding and wintering plovers and their habitats. For more information, please visit http://www.fws.gov/northeast/pipingplover/pdf/summary.pdf
by Steve Zachar (VM16)
Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
Similar in size to a German Shepherd Dog, the Mexican gray wolf is the smallest wolf subspecies, as well as the most critically endangered wolf species in the world. They are currently listed as Extinct in the Wild on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. Due to government-mandated predator removal efforts in the mid-1900s, as well as a reduction of natural prey species, the Mexican wolf completely disappeared from the wild by the late 1970s. The Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan began with just seven individuals in 1978, and it was not until 1998 that 50 captive-bred wolves were released into protected wilderness areas in New Mexico and Arizona. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) annual year-end survey reported 75 Mexican wolves in the wild, a 17 wolf increase from the previous year. The FWS will maintain protection of the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest while expanding recovery efforts. With continued success of captive breeding programs and federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection, the FWS is hopeful that Mexican gray wolf numbers will rebound as well as their Gray wolf cousins, whose population has gone from near extinction in the U.S. to several thousand over the past several decades.
For more information on the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, visit: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/
1. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Service Proposes to Return Management and Protection of Gray Wolves to State Wildlife Professionals Following Successful Recovery Efforts. The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7 June 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/pdf/NR_wolf_press_release.pdf>.
2. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Wolf Recovery in North America. The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, January 2007. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2007/gray_wolf_factsheet-region2.pdf>.
3. “Basic Facts About Mexican Gray Wolves.” Mexican Gray Wolf. Defenders of Wildlife, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013 <http://www.defenders.org/mexican-gray-wolf/basic-facts>.
Birds suffering from wing fractures and head trauma due to window collisions are some of the most common patients seen at the Wildlife Medical Clinic. Please check out this post from www.birdwatchingdaily.com on ways that you can help save these birds- and your windows.
by Nicki Rosenhagen (VM15)
On May 20th, the Wildlife Medical Clinic took in two very unique patients – a pair of bobcat kittens. The animals had been found on a Friday in a train car in the Tuscola area; since the finder didn’t know for sure if the cats were orphans, he left them alone for the weekend to see if the mother would return. When he checked again on Monday, they were still there – hungry and scared.
Even though it may seem strange to leave two young animals alone, the finder made a very good decision. All too often, the clinic receives “orphaned” animals that have been unintentionally kidnapped by well-meaning citizens. Since mother animals have to leave their babies alone for periods of time to find food or just to avoid attracting attention to a nest, people sometimes find these healthy animals and assume they are orphaned. By not immediately catching the bobcats, this man gave them their best chance at being reunited with their mother, but after two days alone, it was clear she wasn’t coming back. Upon further investigation, we learned that the train the cats were found on came up from Louisiana. Likely what had happened was that somewhere near the train’s point of origin, the mother bobcat left her kittens in the car for safekeeping while she went off to hunt. Unfortunately, the train was scheduled to depart before she could make it back.
When the cats were admitted, they were dehydrated, thin, hungry and full of intestinal parasites. After providing fluids and medications to treat the parasites, the staff at the clinic set them up in an isolation area where they would see and hear people as little as possible. Because bobcats are relatively large carnivores, it is imperative that they never associate humans with food or positive interactions. A bobcat that sees a human as a food source, a competitor or even a friend, is very dangerous and cannot be returned to the wild. Luckily, these cats had no love for humans – even at one and one and a half pounds, they were growling, hissing and spitting.
The bobcats have been in care for three weeks now and are healthy and aggressive. Both of the sisters have more than doubled their intake weight, dining on rats, mice, chicken and fish, and they are ready to move to the next phase in their rehab process. Next week, the clinic director and one of the managers will be transporting the bobcats to a licensed rehabilitation center in southern Illinois. This center has experience raising and releasing orphaned bobcats and even has a specific enclosure for the species. At their new home, the cats will continue to grow, learn to hunt and acclimate to the sights and sounds of the outdoors. Once they are old enough and capable of fending for themselves, the bobcats will be released to live out their days in the wild where they belong.
WGLT-AM (Illinois State University radio; April 9) – Dr. Adam Stern was interviewed regarding white-nose syndrome outbreak in Illinois. He was the pathologist who identified the pathogen from samples collected in Illinois. [Note: He is introduced at 2:20.]
March 9th, 2013
6:30pm @ the I-Hotel & Conference Center, Champaign, IL
Orphan season is upon us, albeit a little sooner than we had expected. This past Saturday, team five received 2013’s first two infant eastern grey squirrels. With constant heat and five feedings per day, these pups were cared for until they could be transferred to one of our licensed rehabilitators.
While the clinic was appreciative of the opportunity to care for these tiny squirrels, the point must be stressed that under most circumstances, young wildlife thrives best when left with their parents in their natural environment. For more information on when and when not to move wildlife, please visit our Wildlife Resources page.