Welcome. I am a newly qualified wildlife rehabilitator. I started volunteering in wildlife rehab in 2008, got hired as Assistant Rehabilitator at the clinic in 2009, and passed my first licensing test in 2011. I am officially a State Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator in my state. But I’m still a fledgling.This is a new career for me. I used to be a further education teacher/employment advisor, things like that. But I always loved birds. And now, I have a career helping them and their wild cousins.
This blog will chronicle my experiences with the animals I try to rehabilitate, and myself as I gain more experience.
Suzie Gilbert, a wild bird rehabber and author, explains why we do what we do: (An excerpt from “Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found her Wings” )
“Critics say: rehabbers are nothing but a bunch of bunny-huggers wasting their time. Populations are what count, not individuals. It’s not worth the effort.
First, when any potential critic looks down on me from his lofty position and deigns to grade my effort, I tend to ignore (or mock) him outof principle. But this is an argument easily won. Although wildlife rehabilitation beings with the individual, there is a ripple effect that extends far beyond the single animal. If critics of wildlife rehabilitiation are looking for numbers, they find them not in the release rates of a single rehabilitiator but in the numbers of people who have been reached and educated because of her (or him)
Wildlife rehabilitators find themselves in the same position but faced with a more skeptical public, many of whom seem to believe that wild animals are little more than programmed robots. Some loudly and indignantly question why rehabbers “waste” their time with animals when they could be helping people, a query even more absurd than asking a pilot why he or she is not a firefighter.
We clean, feed, study, attend conferences, amass arcane knowledge and learn to handle the creatures who fear us. Our triumph is to acceptan injured wild animal, treat its injuries, carefully learn each one of its quirks and preferences, help it heal, then let it go. If thingsgo according to plan, we will never see it again.
Somehow, this is enough.
“Do you ever fall in love with the animals you take care of?”, I asked a rehabiliator, naively, years ago.
She gave me a small, rueful smile. “Every single one”, she said.
Wildlife rehabilitators learn all too quickly that each animal, each bird who comes through the door is unique. Species may share general traits, but each individual is different, each one is memorable. And as soon as this becomes clear, the enormity of what humankind is doing to the natural world becomes all the more harrowing.
Critics may look for numbers, but from that point of view all nonprofit work is the veritable drop in the bucket. Millions are under seige;what’s the point of helping fifty, or a hundred, or a thousand? The point is in the value of the individual, and in the ensuing ripple effect. The drop in the bucket is the convulsing mockingbird; the ripple effect is that a woman brings it to a rehabilitator , who convinces the woman to stop using pesticides on her lawn, and the woman returns home and convinces her neighbors to do the same. The drop in the bucket is the nest of owlets fallen from a chain-sawed tree; the ripple effect is that a man brings them to a rehabilitator, who dissuades the man from clear-cutting the rest of his property, and the man brings up the effects of clear cutting at the next town board meeting.
Ninety five percent of wildlife injuries are the direct result of human activities. Our recent national leaders have championed business and money at the expense of everything else. and deemed a robin’s life- since it has ‘no commercial value’ – barely worth noticing. If there is nowhere for a member of the public to bring a single injured wild animal, then the animals’ collective lives will become even cheaper than they already are. If the average person’s initial concern over an inured bird is met with nothing but shrugs and apathy, he will conclude that wildlife really isn’t worth saving, and the war over intrinsic value will truly be lost.