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Stephen Sorrentino
IN BRIEF
Wildlife Tours:  Saturdays May-Sept.12 and 2 pm *October- April 2 pm only*

 

Autism and Animals

 

 

 

Dear Wildlife Supporters,

 

On a particularly sad day, when one of our favorite wildlife patients, a red-tailed hawk, had to be euthanized because he was not able to recover from being hit by a car, I heard a lovely story. Linnaea Furlong, our Education Outreach Director, shared a happy moment she witnessed while working with one of our new groups in the community. When she went out to check on the Cypress School, who brought a small group of autistic youth, she heard one of their students engaged with Wiley, our education coyote. This is the story Linnaea and I would like to share with you:

 

Spring has sprung here at the wildlife rescue, which means babies are beginning to come in, and so are all the weeds! This month, we'd like to tell you about some very special volunteers who have been helping us pull our mountains of weeds.

 

Cypress School contacted us a month ago to see if we would be a good match for their volunteer program. Cypress School works with youth who have autism spectrum issues, disabilities, and behavioral needs that cannot be met at public schools. They were looking for a service opportunity for some of their students with severe autism. Ideally, the school wanted a task that the youth could use in their future that was simple and repetitive. Our first thought was, "Pulling weeds!" The school thought this was a great idea, and brought some of their students for a visit.

 

We have come to learn that our wildlife center is a healing place, not only for animals, but humans, too.  We were excited to get these new volunteers out onto the trails, where they could see the animals, hear the wind in the trees, and feel the sunlight on their faces while they pulled weeds. Maybe they could feel safe and happy here. Many of us don't know what severe autism means for people. These students didn't speak. One student communicated through a series of picture cards. Others flapped their hands.  Another student made singing noises constantly. But none of this matters to the animals. There's no judgement in their eyes.

 

As Wiley the coyote watched and listened to the teenage boy with his singing voice, he decided to join him and began howling, throwing his head back and singing his strong song into the skies above. Stacey his partner joined in and they both delivered a chorus that all of the others stopped and listened to. No one spoke or made a sound, but all smiled at each other and continued to listen. This moment became very precious to us as we noticed our human friends connect with our wildlife friends. The staff that worked with the young adults were also moved.

 

  

 

We asked permission from Cypress School to share this story with all the supporters of our wildlife center. We felt it was important that our readers know that anyone, whatever their physical or mental ability, can volunteer and have something valuable to contribute. We love our Cypress School volunteers, and this experience continues to teach us that we all make a difference in the healing elements here at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. We have other stories of at risk youth, court appointed volunteers, and people experiencing personal struggles who have shared meaningful moments while helping the animals in one way or another.

 

Currently we do NOT have a volunteer coordinator to help lead and instruct our volunteers who come to us for many different reasons from the community. We know we could see and share many more valuable stories like this in the future with a designated staff person who is devoted to making these connections happen.  The saying, "It takes a village..." applies here too. This is one of our dreams for the future.

 

Your Spring Season Appeal is on its way to you now. We are always appreciative of your continued support and it's because of you that our doors stay open for all of us to enjoy the beautiful rewards of helping our wildlife here in Sonoma County.

 



Barn Owls and Benefactors

 

   


We wanted to update all of our supporters about the Barn Owl Maintenance Program also nicknamed BOMP. More than 4 years ago, we started doing research in the Lynmar Estates vineyards and the Ottelini Family Ranch vineyards to find out what was going on inside their beautiful barn owl boxes. The main reason for doing this was to foster orphaned barn owls that we could not reunite with their own mothers. We found out 3 important things. The first thing we learned was the activity levels in each of the boxes. There were live mothers with babies the same size as the ones we needed foster moms for. The second thing we learned was that those moms were capable of fostering our orphaned babies and raise them with their own owlets. The third thing was the boxes needed to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. We are offering consultations to address these issues now, along with advice on the number of boxes and their placement on your property.

 

Now in our 4th year, we want to thank the following family vineyards and private residents for their support:

 

AJ Wacaser                                                                                         Lynmar Estates

Betsy Karrer and Tom Menzies                                                  

Lynn Kasuba and Corky Ferris

Creek View Commons                                                                   

Mark Ramirez

Diana and Charles Karren                                                             Pahlmeyer Vineyards

E&J Gallo Winery                                                                              

Rick Burns

Joel Reiter                                                                                           Robert Pousman MD

Kimberly and Mike Flowers                                                         

Sandy and Paul Otellini                                 

Laguna de Santa Rosa                                                                    Suzanne and Phillip Knowlton

Todd Gee                                                                                            

Vita Pehar

 

Because of these people that believed in us and our program, we have raised $32,542 (before expenses) for our Raptor Recovery Program. If anybody wants to know more about our BOMP, please call us at 707-992-0274 and ask for our Executive Director, Doris Duncan.

 

We would also like to thank one of our volunteers, Max, and his dad for redesigning our barn owl boxes so they last about 4 times as long on your property. Look at that fancy machine!

 

 

Until then, happy gopher hunting to all of our BOMP clients! 

 

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Doris Duncan
Executive Director 

Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
Registered 501(c)(3) Non Profit.

 

Save Spring Cleaning for Later!


 
 

With the warm weather, everyone wants to get outside and do some spring cleaning yardwork. We're asking you to hold your horses! (Yes, you can tell your husband or wife we told you to.) Spring is the worst time to trim your trees! We've already had baby squirrels come in who were orphaned when the tree with their nest in it was cut down, and mom was scared away. It's too easy to trim a branch and find out too late that you've taken down a bird or squirrel home. So we're asking you to save your branch trimming until later, so that baby birds and squirrels can grow up healthy with their own mothers in a safe home. 


 

Speaking of nests, ravens are nesting in our eucalyptus trees! Come by SCWR for a tour, and we'll point out their home. 


 


 

Who's Kidnapping Baby Bunnies?
 

 


 

Now that it's spring, we're seeing baby bunnies who are victims of kidnapping! Who would do such a thing? Well, nice people who are trying to be helpful. 


 

We've all read picture books which show mother rabbits and baby rabbits together. We wouldn't think real wild rabbits would wear clothes and talk, like they do in books, but in the same way, we shouldn't think real wild rabbits need to be with mom all the time.  Mother rabbits need to eat a lot to feed their babies, but baby bunnies can't often follow their mother everywhere she needs to go.  So the mother puts the baby in a safe spot, leaves the baby, and returns to feed the baby every so often. While mom is away, people often find the rabbit, think it has been orphaned, and bring it to us.  If we suspect it was kidnapped, we will make you take it back! 


 

Rabbits do not do well in rehabilitation, despite our best efforts, and a baby's best chance at survival is staying with mom, even if there are dogs and cats in the neighborhood. On the other hand, if your dog or cat brings a baby rabbit into the house, we do want to see it. Pets can do a lot of damage to a baby rabbit.  This spring, let your friends and family know to leave baby bunnies alone, so no poor rabbit mother comes back to find her baby was kidnapped!