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Karen Koskey

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December 12, 2013
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Be aware of your impact on our wildlife

Wildlife Rehabilitation & Rescue is a 501(c)3, volunteer organization that rescues all kinds of native wildlife, from fox squirrels to wrens to red-tailed hawks.

Most of the animals that come to us are injured or orphaned due directly to an adverse interaction with humans. Some of the reasons these critters come to us are because of being hit by cars; striking windows; entanglement with barbed wire; caught by cats; or worst of all, being hurt by malicious human actions, such as shooting a beautiful red-shouldered hawk.

As an example, one of our on-call people, Janet, got a call early one Sunday morning. Some people were camping at Rollins Lake, and the daughter saw an owl hanging by her wing from a tree, about 15 feet off the ground.

Janet called a fellow rehabber, Andy, to bring his truck and a ladder, but the dad called back and informed Janet the owl had fallen to the ground. So with no need for the ladder, Janet called off Andy and retrieved the owl, who had been watched over by the campers while it was on the ground.

It turned out to be a Great-Horned Owl who had gotten tangled in fishing line. Fortunately, she was not hurt too badly, just a bruised wing because of where she had been hanging from the fishing line. After some first-aid, food and a little time, the owl was released back where she was found after two other raptor rehabbers, Eric and Laurel, retrieved the fishing line and the hook and sinker attached to it.

Unfortunately, other animals and birds have not been so lucky. A Canada Goose was brought to the intake center one evening with fishing line wrapped so tightly around his leg that the foot was dangling and almost amputated. He could not be saved and had to be euthanized. He had probably been suffering with the line around his foot for several days before he was found.

The moral of this story is, please, be aware of the fact that what you do impacts nature and wildlife.

As Chief Seattle said, “If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.”

There are some things you can do to help wildlife and Mother Earth:

Never leave fishing line, plastic six-pack holders and other litter behind when you’re out camping, hiking, etc. It can be hazardous or even fatal to wildlife.

Cats are domesticated animals and belong indoors, as cats left to roam outside are responsible for the deaths of billions of songbirds a year. Not to mention that outdoor cats live an average of three to four years, whereas indoor cats can live 18 or more years.

If you’re a hunter, please use nonleaded shot, as many species of wildlife die an agonizing death after ingesting dead animals killed with lead shot. These include, but are not limited to, turkey vultures, bald and golden eagles, and California condors.

If you have old barbed wire fencing around your property, please take it down. One of our educational animals, Chester the Great-Horned Owl, was trapped on barbed wire for a couple of days. He lost an eye and badly tweaked a wing. He is unable to fly well enough to hunt, so he can never be released back to the wild.

Do not leave pet food out overnight.

Don’t use pesticides or glue traps to catch mice or rats. A hawk that ingests a mouse killed by D-Con can also be killed. And we have had to euthanize some birds that were caught in a glue trap intended for rats.

Snap traps are very effective and don’t kill other wildlife. Or best of all, try to attract barn owls to your property by putting up a barn owl box. These are simple to make, and you can find plans online from The Hungry Owl Project. A family of barn owls eats thousands of mice a year.

If you see an injured or orphaned bird or animal, call our hotline at 530- 432-5522. If you want to help out in other ways, either by volunteering or donating money or supplies, contact Laurel at 530-277-2121 or laurelg2121@gmail.com, or Karen at 530-388-8525 or kkosk@hughes.net.

Please also visit our website for important information on how to donate, what to do and what not to do when you find injured wildlife. For more information, visit http:/www.cawildlife911.org.

Karen Koskey is director-at-large of Wildlife Rehabilitation & Rescue.


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The Union Updated Dec 12, 2013 10:54PM Published Dec 18, 2013 12:01AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.