Wildlife Rehabbers share their owls with Brooklyn at Raptorfest 2013 in Prospect Park

Wildlife rehabbers let Brooklynites get close to the hawks, owls and eagle they’ve saved. We got to touch an owl!

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Yellowstone Sanctuary, home to bears, cougar, Ted Turner's magpie, may close

Mountain lion peers out from lair.

MT’s only wildlife sanctuary may close because it’s not meeting federal regulations, but it won’t say which ones.

Keep reading Closing MT’s only wildlife rehab center, home to bear, lynx, Ted Turner’s magpie?

Gifts of the Crow: brain scan proof these birds are devious, silly and smart

Biologists use brain scans (and entertaining experiments and anecdotes) to show that crows, ravens and other corvids think like people.

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Fabulous Possum Video: Ad Campaign or Satire?

Are these fabulous possum care instructional videos a viral ad scam? Or just a California wildlife rehabilitator with a sense of humor?

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Fawns Like to Nibble, Volunteer Visit to Wildlife Rehabber Shows

5 fawns

A room full of fawns

Today I got to visit a wildlife rehabiliator near Poughkeepsie who is far more experienced and patient than I am. Celie would need to be to handle the 98 animals in her care–including a pack of dogs, horses, chickens, birds and other permanent residents. But the reason my friend Vicki and I went to visit was that Celie got slammed by a big baby season.

Every May and June wildlife rehabilitators around the country get tons of calls from people who have found baby animals and birds. The usual correct response is to tell the person to put the animal back in exactly the spot where it was found because mom was just out getting food and she’s going to be pissed when she gets back. Wildlife rehabbers usually won’t take the animals unless they’re injured, orphaned or out on their own way too soon. But in many cases people know that the animals are orphaned because they find mom’s dead body nearby. In the case of many of the animals at Celie’s gorgeous farm, they were hit by cars.

possum family

For weeks straight she was getting many calls a day, all leading to more and more animals. She seemed to never say no. So Vicki and I headed up to help out. Really Vicki is used to mass animal raising, but I feel like I’m a farmhand just managing 8 or 9 squirrels. Basically I figured I could clean cages,

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Squirrel Patient Gains a Tooth, a House a Proposal

Three weeks into her convalescence from having bottom teeth growing into her upper gums, Mickey, the good-natured squirrel from Queens, is recovering well. The best sign for her was that one of her top teeth grew back. Then it disappeared again. But it’s an excellent sign that she’ll one day do fine in the wild, or at least the Queens community garden where she lives.

One of Mickey’s friends at the community garden, Peter Richter, says a couple months before he brought her in she had a bad fall from a tree after charging a red-tailed hawk. What I now think happened is she broke her top teeth, without which her bottom teeth grew out of control. The teeth grew both up and down and she still has a gaping hole in her chin that I really wish would go away. She had to badly infected digits–you can see one here covered in scab and peanut butter.

 Personality-wise, she is still sweet, has never tried to bite hem, but she is done with me. That’s a good sign. She’s much more independent and intolerant of handling.

Over the last week she’s had a number of opportunities for a new life come her way. Twice I got calls about litters of baby squirrels needing a home. Mickey, an experienced mother, would be good for the babies and they’d give her something to do besides hide from me. Both litters fell through. (One, I think, went to another rehabber. The other

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Squirrel Recovering from Ingrown Teeth

Mickey, the gentle black squirrel I got as a patient last week, seems to be recovering nicely, though is still a bit off. She came from a community garden in Queens suffering from a malocclusion, swollen thumbs, mites and a wobbly posture. After I clipped her teeth–which I am totally proud of–she eats voraciously and messily.

Two good signs for her recovery today. She’s finally taking some interest in grooming herself. That’s good because if she doesn’t clean herself up, I have to and neither of us like that. She’s not used to eating with only bottom teeth and she’s a huge slob. She can only have soft foods like peanut butter, avocado, banana and honey.

The second good sign is that she’s chattering her teeth at me. In squirrel talk, she’s telling me that she’s a bad ass. And probably tired of me wiping her face off.

Now she just has to grow some top teeth and maybe close up that gaping hole in her chin and she can go back in the wild.

Where to Go to See Special SquirrelsPlenty of Wildlife Lives in NYC. Found Out Where

To see more animals go to animaltourism.com

Medievel Squirrel Denistry on My Kitchen Table

I’ve been a widlife rehabilitator for a while but somehow managed to avoid the standard but scary procedure in treating squirrels known as teeth clipping. Squirrel teeth continually grow and get worn down against each other–unless something happens so they don’t line up right.  Then someone has to clip them.

Named Mickey by her friends at the Sunnyside Park Community Garden, this sweet, adult, black, female squirrel had bottom teeth growing into her top gums. Peter Richter, who caught her and carried her in, said she had a bad fall a couple months ago. Until then she had been friendly to people and a ferocious defender of her territory from other squirrels.

In what seemed like medieval dentistry, I got some electronics clippers from Ace. I held the extraordinarily cooperative patient in a fleece. I don’t think I’m as compliant when I get my teeth cleaned. I could be brave because with her teeth in this condition, she couldn’t bite me anyway. Or bite anything. She could only lick food and water out of the side of her mouth.

Then, snap, just like that, it was done. It really was just as easy as the YouTube videos claimed. She enthusiastically started eating an apple. Before I clipped her teeth she could only lick food out of the side of her mouth, so it was a success.

She still has a long way to go–a hole in her chin, no top teeth for now–but I think she is well

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Hawk Hit By Plane Recovering From Burns

We’re heard plenty about birds hitting planes since the USAIR crash into the Hudson last year. But what about birds hit by planes? An Illinois red-tailed hawk somehow got hit by a crashing private plane (or its fireball), caught fire and survived. Or at least that’s the going theory of the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which took in the singed bird.

Tragically two men in their 30s died in the crash in Sugar Grove. But four people, including two kids, in a very close house survived.

Then rescuers found the bird with all its feathers burned off. They figure it’s a red-tailed hawk–by far the most common hawk–and a female, the bigger of the species. But that’s just a guess, the center’s blog say:

Burned beyond positive species identification, Phoenix was recovered by Kane County Animal Control and was promptly transferred to Flint Creek Wildlife for emergency care. Since that time four nights ago, she has been receiving around-the-clock care for her injuries.

“When I saw the bird, I was shocked,” said Dawn Keller, the center’s executive director.  “This was nothing like I’ve ever seen. It had to have been engulfed.” She only has down left and has burnt feet, throat and eyelids. Still the center will work to release her if she is able. Otherwise “Phoenix” will become an education bird.

Keller had to explain to the local media that Phoenix was not guilty of causing the crash. “The crash happened after dark, which means she

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Oh, the Silly Things We’ll Do To Rescue a Cute Kitten

Skip about 40 seconds into this video from Wildlife Education and Resource Center and you’ll get to see some grown women dressing up as a giant (though somewhat disheveled) bobcat and playing with a bobcat kitten. The women rub themselves in bark and sticks to get a nice earthy, non-human scent. Then the lucky ladies step into this homemade costume, which has been pre-scented with bobcat urine.

The WERC center in Morgan Hill, CA (near San Jose), pioneered the technique in 1994. It’s all in an effort to prevent the kittens from getting used to the idea of hanging around humans. These lynx turn out fine–as long as they don’t stumble upon a mascot convention.


To see more animals go to animaltourism.com