Thursday, June 28, 2007

Farewell, Dickie...

Around noon yesterday I drove Dickie to the licensed bird rehabilitator that lives near my town. I liked this lady immediately, and I know Dickie is going to thrive at her place until he flies away on his own. And that is the good news...apparently Dickie is only a couple of days away from being able to do that.
Since this was the first time I've ever rescued a wild animal, I asked the rehabilitator (I'll call her "J") what one should do when they come across a wild creature that is lost or hurt. Here is J's advice:

1. Leave it alone and do not touch it.-this sounds harsh, but 99.9% of the time there is a parent animal nearby that will return to the baby. If we interfere, we cause more harm than good. Even when birds fall out of the nest, the parents continue to care and feed for them on the ground. In Dickie's case, he was probably still getting attention from his parents and would have flown away on his own in a day or two.
2. Only intervene if you know the animal is in real danger. (I was relieved to hear that J considered being stepped on by rams a true threat) Or if you witnessed the parents being killed, or found them dead.
3. Think twice before taking an animal from the wild even if #2 applies. Animal rehabilitators are extremely overwhelmed with wildlife being brought in. They do have to give certain species and certain circumstances priority over others. So even if one plucks the doomed creature out of it's natural home, there is no certainty that a licenced rehabilitator will be able to continue it's care. (And it is against the law to have any wildlife in your own care if you are not licensed) This may seem harsh too...but if one thinks of how balanced nature is, it makes sense. The circle of life WILL take care of the problem if we stay out of the picture. As J said, the only thing that makes the situation different from normal life in the wild is that a human witnessed the weakness of a certain creature.
4. When in doubt, call your local wildlife rehabilitator FIRST. Tell that person the circumstances. Let that person guide you. These helpful folks can be found by calling your local office of wildlife management. In Minnesota-that would be the Department of Natural Resources.
Dickie...I hope you fly soon and live a long and happy life. I will never forget your sassy little personality or your exquisitely delicate form. May God go with you...

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