2020 Spring Newsletter | Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
"The Earth has music for those who listen."
- Unknown
A Message from our Executive Director
Baby Season is Upon Us!
While a lot has changed in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, a lot has stayed the same here at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue as we have been deemed an “essential business”. We have had to close our doors to the public tours and all other public visiting, as well as our community service volunteers who provide much needed facility maintenance support. Our regularly scheduled animal care volunteers have also been cut in half with our COVID-19 Protocol , written and upheld to protect both staff and volunteers.

However, COVID-19 has not stopped wildlife orphans from coming into care. Baby season has officially begun with a handful of infant squirrels, a few litters of opossums and a couple of down-covered mourning doves currently dispersed between our hospital and nursery.

While tours and our PEEP student program have been suspended, our staff is using any spare moment to cultivate the wildlife education garden for feeding our wildlife patients, volunteers and staff. We have already been told we may lose some of our produce and eggs that we so badly need to provide nutrition to our patients that are in the process of healing and waiting to return to their homes in the wild.

Michael McGuire, our AWES director is taking extra precautions to protect himself and his family, while trying to help people in our community resolve their issues with our local wildlife, as they look for opportunities where ever they can find them to shelter and raise their babies. A Wildlife Exclusion Service provides life-saving alternatives to the raccoons, skunks, opossums, bats and even an occasional river otter who have taken up residency in some of our community members' homes and businesses. It is a self-funded program and only provides a very marginal amount of funding to our rehabilitation efforts.

Our Barn Owl Maintenance Program is up and running and we are grateful for the much-needed revenue this provides for funding our charity work. While Pints for Paws was cancelled due to COVID-19, we were able to host a virtual fundraiser and those funds went directly towards our baby season efforts as they usually do. Thank you to all of you who contributed.

We are keenly aware of how the world is suffering and none of us in our community are exempt from the potential loss of life or well-being. With that in mind and the work that is looming in front of us now, we ask for your help to continue saving wild lives as they need us more than ever. Our staff and select volunteers are all giving everything it takes to keep our doors open.

Our annual Spring Season appeal is at the printers now and should be in your mail boxes by the end of the month. Please consider sending your donation to provide the much needed help if you can afford to at this time. We are grateful to all of you no matter what!

Some great news we would like to share is, we received over 30 intern applications amid the current pandemic and we should have a new crew of 8-10 interns beginning in May. Victoria Harris, our staff Intern Director and Animal Care Assistant has done everything she could think of to make this possible for us this year.

Much love and appreciation to all you!
Doris Duncan
Executive Director
Our first intake of baby season were these two orphaned gray squirrels.
Event Updates
Facebook Fundraiser for Supplies

We are currently hosting a medical equipment fundraiser through our Facebook page to help us upgrade our medical equipment in our Wildlife Hospital.

We are seeking financial support to fund much needed medical equipment for our rapidly growing wildlife patient case load! In late 2019, we began replacing the incubators that house our wildlife orphans every year. By the beginning of this baby season, we were able to replace the majority of our original incubators that consisted of a heating pad between two storage containers providing minimal heat and climate control to our patients inside. So far this baby season, it's been pure joy watching them thrive while housed in these new incubators that have temperature and humidity control. To replace all of our remaining original incubators we need to purchase 3 new medium incubators. The cost to upgrade these final incubators is $2,265. Additionally, we are in need of a pulse oximeter and an oxygen therapy door to improve on the scope of care we are able to perform on-site, limiting the stress incurred by wildlife patients when we take them for treatment elsewhere. The pulse oximeter helps our animal care team monitor patients under anesthesia and the oxygen therapy door allows us to convert a hospital enclosure into an oxygen therapy chamber providing much needed oxygen support for larger wildlife patients. The cost to purchase these two pieces of equipment together is $1540. Finally, our animal care team is in need of a new laptop for medical record keeping. Their current laptop is on its last leg and is unable to meet the needs of our wildlife hospital. The cost to upgrade their laptop to one that will meet the demands of our wildlife hospital is $800.

These upgrades combined together will help our animal care team and wildlife patients thrive for this and many baby seasons to come. Please consider donating whatever you can to help fund this much needed equipment.

To make a donation through Facebook, please click here.

Don't have a Facebook? Feel free to donate on our website. Please make a note on your donation that it is for our medical equipment fundraiser.
An orphaned eastern fox squirrel sprawls out in the warmth of the incubator she and her siblings are sharing.
A litter of orphaned opossums naps while one of their siblings quietly explores the incubator.
Virtual Tours with SCWR

Just like wildlife have to adapt to the conditions that they are presented with in the wild, we have had to adapt to a new way of living during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This inspired us to start giving virtual tours of our center through social media. Our hope is that we are able to reach and inspire kids and adults to learn about our local wildlife and the challenges they face.

We held the first live tour of our Aquatic Mammal Enclosure with veterinarian Dr. Dan Famini on April 2nd. We were extremely excited by it's success and by the amazing questions we received from our viewers. Follow us on Facebook for updates on our next virtual tours! Our videos will also be available on our website and on YouTube after they have streamed.
A virtual tour of our Aquatic Mammal Enclosure with veterinarian Dr. Dan Famini held on April 2nd.
Pints for Paws Cancellation

Our annual fundraiser, Pints for Paws, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. While this last minute cancellation was something that none of us saw coming, we are deeply humbled by the generosity of our supporters and are happy to announce that, thanks to you, we were able to raise the same amount as we did during last year's Pints for Paws Fundraiser through a virtual fundriaser!

The much needed funds from this fundraiser come just in time for baby season every year and help us in our mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!
Community Spotlight
Blindingly Clean

Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue has had the privilege of working with Blindingly Clean since we moved to our current center in 2007. Upon first moving into our center, we were extremely tight on funds and were relying solely on the community to help provide us with materials and volunteer work to furnish and build out our center. When moving in, every window was bare and in need of blinds so Executive Director, Doris Duncan, contacted Ernie Martin at Blindingly Clean to help put up much needed window coverings. For us, blinds were a high priority in order to give staff and volunteers shelter from the sun after long days working outside caring for animals and building enclosures. In addition they are also extremely valuable to our hospital staff who need privacy during intense procedures and when the time comes to humanely euthanize a wildlife patient. During each type of event, the blinds give the animals a smaller space to be enclosed within, limiting stress to them. Ernie, who had watched the developments happening on the property, heard of our need and went above and beyond what we could have hoped for; he installed used and refurbished blinds throughout the center free of charge.

As we continued to build out the center by adding the Nursery, our Wildlife Education Barn and our Raptor Recovery Center, Blindingly Clean was there for us with every new addition by donating blinds and making monthly contributions to our efforts. In January, when we announced that we were going to be building an Apex Predator Enclosure, Ernie immediately reached out out to Doris to let us know that, once again, he's available to help with whatever we need for this project. Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue would like to thank Ernie for his compassion and generosity throughout the years!

If you are in need of blind cleaning, repairs or replacements, we highly recommend working with Blindingly Clean. Based out of Santa Rosa, Blindingly Clean has been in business since 1999 and services from Petaluma to Cloverdale. They are a one stop shop for window coverings with a 5 star rating on Yelp. If you would like more information, please visit their website at www.blindinglyclean.net.
BOMP Corner - Casey O'Connell Joins the SCWR BOMP Team
SCWR's BOMP team is excited to announce that our very own Casey O'Connell had joined our Barn Owl Maintenance Team! Casey started with Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue in May of 2018. He was initially hired on as seasonal help during baby season, but our team quickly learned what a valuable asset he had become to the organization. Not only was he enjoyable to work with, he held a true passion for wildlife and was very attentive to the needs and varying conditions of the animals. He was then hired on full time as an Animal Care Assistant.

After his first year with us, our barn owl maintenance program continued to grow and we needed to find additional help. While the work did not require a full time position, we needed to find someone who was dedicated to SCWR, mindful of the owls' well-being and an honest and trustworthy person to send to do work on our clients properties and in their vineyards. Executive Director, Doris Duncan, thought that Casey met all of the criteria and asked that he come and train with her in the field.

Casey described his first training session as eye opening and he enjoyed learning everything that goes into finding the right spot to place a barn owl box. Casey is now trained and a fully fledged member of our BOMP team and we could not be more exited to have him. His favorite part of BOMP is searching properties and vineyards for the perfect spot to install a new box and the feeling of confidence you get knowing that an owl will likely occupy the box.
Animal Care Spotlight
All About Opossums!
Virginia Opossums are our number one intake every year and 2020 will be no exception. In 2019, SCWR received over 350 opossums in need of care, down from 2018 having more than 400! The main reason that number is so high every year is due to their large litter count. Opossums, whose babies are known as joeys, can have up to 22 offspring in a single litter! While the large litters are immediately decreased due to the limited number of nipples available from their mom, most litters have between 8-12 joeys that survive to live in their mother's pouch. Being our only native marsupial to North America, opossums are born after just 14 days!

At the moment they are born, they travel up their mother's abdomen into her pouch and spend the rest of their gestation period fused to their mother's teat. The tiny newborn opossums are completely hairless, weigh less than a gram, their eyelids have not yet formed and their arms and legs are not fully developed. For the next two months, the opossums do not leave their mother's pouch while they continue to develop and grow. Once the opossums reach this age, they are old enough to detach from their mother's teat and venture outside of the pouch for short periods of time. The corners of their lips are still fused and they begin to open their eyes. At 75 days, they have a full coat of fur, their lips are completely separated and their eyes are open. At this age, they are able to maintain their own body heat and can leave the pouch for greater lengths of time. By day 80, the joeys begin to show interest in solid food and begin to respond to their mother's clicking. At day 90, the joeys are much more independent, often running along side their mother in the wild and weaning begins to take place. By day 120, the now juvenile opossums are fully independent and have left their mother to survive on their own in the wild. In the wild, opossums survive independently, only pairing up to mate. Being omnivores, their main diet is insects, small rodents, fruits and vegetables. Opossums are most known to benefit humans by controlling tick and rodent populations.
Intern, Hannah McComber, learns to tube feed opossums. This opossum is about 80 days old and is starting to show interest in solid foods.
With so many varying stages of growth, the rehabilitation process of an orphaned opossum is very unique compared to other mammals. The earliest stage we are able to successfully raise and release an orphaned opossum is at 60 days, when they are old enough to detach from their mother's teat. Since joeys swallow their moms teat into their stomach when they eat, the opossums raised at this stage need to be tube fed multiple times a day by staff, interns and volunteers. Once they reach the age where they would start to leave their moms in the wild, the orphaned opossums in our care graduate to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Community where they learn to forage for food and survive on their own. Once the opossums reach 500 grams, they are ready for release! So far this year, we've received 26 orphaned opossums in care with that number expected to rise drastically throughout baby season.
A small joey napping on a warming sock while waiting for it's feeding.
Currently, we have a very unique case that has required a lot of specialized care and attention. On March, 23, 2020 we received an injured female opossum that was likely hit by a car. During her intake exam, we found that she was carrying several pink infant opossums in her pouch still fused to the mother's teats. We also found that the mother had a jaw fracture in need of surgical repair and an irreparable eye injury that meant her eye would need to be removed. Since the joeys are not old enough to safely be removed from her pouch, treating the mother's injuries made it that much harder due to the fact that they would not be able to survive under anesthesia for a significant amount of time. On March 27th, the mother underwent surgery to repair her jaw fracture. Since then, the mother has been able to eat a much more stable diet and the babies are thriving inside of her pouch. The video below shows an exam that took place on March 30th where all of the opossum joeys are alive and appear to be well taken care of by their mother. Once the joeys are old enough to come out of the pouch for a significant amount of time, surgery will be performed on the mother to remove her eye. The goal is to keep the mother and all of her joeys in care together until the mother is healthy and they are able to be released back into the wild.
Photo (left): Dr. Dan Famini works quickly to repair the jaw of a mother opossum carrying infants in her pouch. Video (right): A post surgical exam of a mother opossum pouch with infant opossums inside.
Support Your Local Wildlife!
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Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that relies on donations from the public to rehabilitate the 1,000+ animals we receive each year. We do not receive any government funding. Our annual operating budget is $950,000, which means it costs almost $2,600 per day to keep our doors open.  Any donation helps!
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