Center for Wildlife Monthly E-newsletter

While we commence busy summer schedules involving weddings, births, graduations, vacations, and work it may be hard to slow down enough to appreciate all of the life surrounding us in nature.  When you run out to the car in the morning, do you hear an incessant cheeping?  That would be the sound of baby songbirds demanding food from their parents who make up to 400 trips back and forth to the nest a day.  Or have you seen a mama turtle trying to cross several lanes of traffic on your commute home?  That is her attempt at carrying out a nesting strategy that has served her species well for millions of years in today's modern world.   

Center for Wildlife and most of New England's wildlife medical clinics and individual rehabilitators are experiencing an unprecedented number of admissions as wildlife try to maintain their existence in our busy world.  Read on for tips on coexisting with our wild neighbors, how we have restructured to keep up with demands, and how you can support our work this season and beyond.  Happy Summer! 
2,000 Animals?
Center for Wildlife may be on track to admit 2,000 animals this year.  Though our dedication to best practices and advanced diagnostics help patients heal faster than ever, we still have 150 patients currently in care. Yesterday we had admitted 2 nestling white breasted nuthatches, three 2-day old hatchlings, two hatchling pheobes, a fledgling crow, a fledgling pileated woodpecker, and 9 ducklings before 12pm.  

Though outreach may lead to more community members in tune with the wildlife around them, a housing boom, rapidly changing climate, and other introduced challenges mean that the need for wildlife rehabilitation services is greater than ever.  Would you consider a gift towards our summer appeal to help with this overwhelming patient load? 

Your gift will provide specialized food, medication, husbandry supplies, and expert medical care so that we can meet the growing demand for our services, and give these animals their best chance at survival and release. In just five years, our annual patient load has grown from 1,400 animals to on track for 2,000 this year.  Without any state or federal funding for this public service, we rely on people like you to achieve our mission of providing a sustainable future for wildlife and their habitats.

We are doing our best to be proactive including position growth and restructuring to promote the ability to gather more community support for growing expenses, and our efforts towards capacity building and a capital campaign. Unfortunately, the additional volunteers, interns, in-kind donations, and local partnerships with other wildlife rehabilitators are just not enough to keep up, and our physical space and tiny team have become maxed during this peak season. Click the link below to show your support for local wildlife, and Center for Wildlife's work.  You'll be joining over 200 friends and neighbors that have answered our call for help! 
Learning to Fly

Birds raise their young in the nest, and when they are ready to leave they fly away, right? Nope.  If you touch a baby bird you cannot put it back in the nest because mom will reject it, right?  Nahh, except for turkey vultures birds don't have a great sense of smell!  A large percentage of calls to our Wildlife Assistance Hotline this time of year are folks calling about healthy fledglings that have just left the nest and will take 2-5 days on the ground to build up flight muscles while parents protect and supplementally feed them.  

Here are some fast facts and tips about the songbirds that add color, beauty, song, and bug control to our world:
  1. Parents feed babies every 15-20 minutes, and babies regularly lock in the songs they hear which allow them to successfully breed and interact with their species throughout their lives.  If at all possible, parents can do it best!
  2. If a bird has shorter feathers and just a little bit of fuzz on its head, is hopping around without falling over, and does not have any sign of injury, it is most likely a healthy fledgling and not a nestling that has fallen out of the nest
  3. Nestlings that have no feathers and are on the ground have had their nests disturbed or parents killed and need help
  4. Nestlings or fledglings that have been attacked by domestic cats need help. Cats have a bacteria in their mouths that can become septic and fatal with even the smallest punctures if left untreated
  5. Keep cats indoors for their safety and our wild neighbors
  6. If a nest has accidentally been destroyed, there may be a way to make a new nest within the same height and close enough that parents will still feed
  7. Birds have a glottis or airway (read large hole!) in their mouths on their tongues as part of their unique respiratory system.  If fed drops of water or any food improperly they can suffer from pneumonia and die
  8. Call our Wildlife Assistance Hotline if you have found an injured animal and need help 207-361-1400
  9. Did we mention keeping cats indoors?  Click here for an informative article on the effects of domestic cats on wildlife, and here for a great article on creating enclosed outdoor spaces to keep wildlife and cats safe. 

Turtle Crossing

Have you seen turtles crossing roads lately?  The cold and rainy weather of May seems to have consolidated turtle nesting season to June instead of the typical May-June season.  These are typically females that are moving from their water source to lay eggs in the sandy, sunny, well drained upland soils where their grandmothers and great grandmothers before them did the same. We admitted 11 turtles last week alone. Some were able to be saved and are currently in care, while others had internal injuries so severe that they passed away or were humanely euthanized.  Of those that are no longer with us, we were able to extract over 100 eggs that will be incubated so that the babies have a chance to hatch and the mother's journey was not in vain.

Here are some quick ways you can help some of our oldest living relatives on the planet:
  1. If you see a turtle in the road and it is safe to do so, place her on the side of the road in the direction she was facing.  Do not relocate. 
  2. Do not take turtles out of the wild and make them pets.  Spread the word about how this is illegal and inhumane!
  3. Support your local land trusts and Conservation Commissions to preserve remaining vernal pool, wetland, and unique habitats in your town
  4. Attend your Planning Board meetings and understand where large scale development is being proposed in your town.  Encourage village districts, conservation subdivisions, and smarter ways of building homes and stewarding our natural resources
  5. Let your Board of Selectman know you would like to see turtle crossing signs up on your roads at turtle crossing hot spots
  6. Tell your local representatives or senators that wildlife and turtle medical care and conservation is important, and you would like to see it supported and funded
Endangered Blanding's Turtle Safely Back in Wild
This large, beautiful turtle is a very old Blanding's turtle; characterized by the dome shaped shell and charismatic yellow smile. She was admitted on June 4th, found in the road with "road rash" or fairly superficial wounds on her shell. Upon examination, we found that this turtle has been through the wringer. She had multiple older fractures that likely occurred 1-2 years ago (seen here in the photo on her carapace, or top part of her shell), and another underneath on her p lastron that occurred several years ago at least. Can you imagine walking around and doing everything you needed to do for years with an open wound and fracture? Her strength and resilience had us all in awe.

Although turtles cannot be safely relocated due to their strong ancestral site fidelity, we knew that in her exact location it was only a matter of time until this potentially 70 year old's life was blinked out in just a second by a car. We worked with the biologists at ME I F & W to find her habitat, and walk her to the far edge of her territory, away from high traffic roads. Yesterday our Executive Director, Kristen, had the honor and privilege of bringing her home. Her habitat abutted a campground, and the owners gladly escorted the turtle and Kristen out to the vernal pools! We could feel her tension melt as soon as she was put on the ground, and she raced her way through the grasses and immediately into the pool, home and safe at last. Farewell, turtle elder!

A Snapping Turtle's Long Journey Home
A long journey home...her first swim in the wild after 6 years of captivity! This snapping turtle was taken from the wild after a well meaning member of the public witnessed her get hit by a boat. She was cared for at their home and after she continued to grow and though she was well loved, her rescuers knew that she needed help and deserved to return to the wild. We knew the exact location of her home and habitat, but was she tame? Could she hunt prey? Could she transition f rom sterile conditions to processing all the wild bacteria, water, and fungus in the wild?

We cared for this beautiful lady all winter. She showed us that she could indeed hunt, and she was wary of predators (humans). In early spring we began conditioning her tub with vernal pool and pond water. Katie Pepin, our Wildlife Specialist/Facilities Coordinator, attended a workshop this past year that had shared studies on captive turtles that perished post release because their gut and systems were not conditioned to wild flora. When she passed all of her tests we knew she was ready to go home.

On Friday we took her home, and it seemed like we could feel her relief and perhaps disbelief that she was free again. Her muscles eventually relaxed, and she sunk happily into the moss and grasses surrounding her home. After some time, she took her first swim in the wild in 6 years. Disappearing beneath her watery home. Farewell snapping turtle!!
Staff Growth- New Positions and Promotions!

Sonja Ahlberg- Medical Clinic Director
Since 2012, Sonja has grown from the Wildlife Specialist to the Medical Clinic Team Lead to most recently the Medical Clinic Coordinator roles.  It is no coincidence that under her leadership within the program we now offer 3 robust and almost year-round Medical Clinic Apprenticeship opportunities, advanced diagnostics like lead testing and complete avian profiles for those patients that need it, and contribute to studies in our field and beyond. Sonja's work on the presence of infection of turtles hit by cars is on track to be published in the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation this fall, and she continues teaching a class for students interested in veterinary medicine at York County Community College among other ongoing contributions to the field.  With almost exponential growth in the clinic, we need a strong leader within to ensure we are utilizing efficiencies, best practices, and establishing volunteer and community support whenever possible.  We know Sonja will shine in this new position!   

Emma Balina- Development Director
Last year we were looking for a Development Coordinator that could help with growing our donor base, updating our stewardship and tracking programs, and assist with a successful capital campaign.  Beyond experience with development, marketing, and capital projects, we were looking for someone with a passion for our work and who was willing to work out of a former walk-in closet and share a bathroom with the occasional turtle and waterbird. Emma has proven to be all that and more, and her leadership and professionalism has shined.  We were honored to offer Emma the full-time Development Director position beginning on July 1.  Emma's focus will continue to be on the capital campaign, growing our development activities to sustain growing demands for our services, along with strategic goals like establishing a Planned Giving Society and publishing our first Annual Report.  We know Emma has been working towards this position over her career, and we are grateful that she is stepping into this role at CFW!

Katie Brodeur- Resident Environmental Educator
250 environmental education programs presented each year.  27 wildlife ambassadors in sanctuary and on our education team. Onsite tours and monthly public programs.  A team of docents and a full education & outreach committee.  Sound intense?  This is just some of the work that our education program performs every year, and although we have amazing volunteer support, the demands for our programming and care and enrichment for our amazing ambassadors outgrew the ability of just our Education & Outreach Coordinator to perform.  When looking for a person to fill our educator position, we needed someone with knowledge of local ecology, superior communication skills, captive wildlife care and husbandry experience, and the ability to lead a team of volunteers and interns.  Luckily, Katie Brodeur has all that and more!  Katie has been involved with Center for Wildlife for over 2 years, has a degree in Zoology from UVM, and is dedicated to ongoing environmental education and professional development like attending Audubon's esteemed Hog Island education week.  We are honored to have Katie continue her professional growth and dedicate her heart and mind toward our work! 

Michelle Chabot- Part-time Clinic Volunteer Coordinator
Our patient load has grown from 1,400 patients in 2012 to likely 2,000 in 2017.  The need for volunteers in the clinic and new positions like the Flex Volunteer or Hotline and Admissions volunteer are critical to our ability to keep up with phone calls, patient care, and patient drop offs in a sustainable way. With the addition of our new website and simple online application form we were receiving more applications than our Wildlife Specialist/Volunteer and Intern Coordinator could keep up with.  This is certainly a good problem to have!  We made the decision to add in a 5-10 hour dedicated position to field inquiries, process applications, schedule orientations and subsequent training sessions for volunteers new and old.  Michelle Chabot has been volunteering with our organization for over 4 years in many different roles.  Most recently she has been the shining face at the desk or voice on the phone 3 days a week as the Hotline and Admissions Volunteer. Michelle is a natural fit for this position, and we are so excited for the opportunity to better restructure and grow our volunteer support! 
Fall Internships Opportunities

Ever thought about a career in wildlife medicine, conservation, or ecology?  Or perhaps you are interested in becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to help ensure that our local wildlife are around for generations to come?  Or maybe you know someone like this? We are now accepting applications for our fall Wildlife Care Internship and have a few positions left! Thanks to local host families we may also have positions remaining with housing options if needed.  This is a great opportunity for recent graduates to explore career opportunities, receive hands on and intensive training on nutrition, ecology, medicine, and husbandry for over 190 local species. Current students may be applicable for a part-time position depending on availability and their qualifications.  

The fall internship runs from August 13th through November 4th, and the deadline for application is August 1st though interns are selected on a rolling basis.  To learn more or to apply today, click here.  
Upcoming Events

Thursday, July 6th
Wild Night at the Brewery
SOME Brewing Co, York, ME
Raise a pint of SOME beer, and raise money for local wildlife! As part of the Coast to Summit Adventure, a 107 mile grueling bike and hike from the coast to Mount Washington, SOME will donate $1 of every pint sold toward our work with injured and orphaned wildlife this season.  

Join your neighbors and friends, and Center for Wildlife staff and ambassadors, to drink great local beer, celebrate the athletes, and save local wildlife!  
Click here for more info. 

Friday, July 7th
Get Wise About Wildlife Series:  Reading the Forest
385 Mountain Road, Cape Neddick ME 03902
How did those boulders come to rest in the middle of the forest? Why does the lichen seem to grow on one side of the tree? What is that big ball of leaves up there? What is this pile of pine cones doing on this rock? Come and meet our wildlife ambassadors who would be found in the forest that we will explore following the program!

There is a $5 per person suggested donation for the tour. Reservations are required, space is limited, open to all ages.  Please email our Education and Outreach Fellow, Katie, to reserve your spot today.   Click here for more information.  
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