Speaking of songbirds, one of the calls I received last week was from someone several counties away who had rescued a bluebird from his cat and wanted to bring it to me. I suggested a halfway point to meet and shortly after I’d left the house, he called and said someone in his home county had agreed to take the bird; they’d just opened up some sort of animal rescue, etc., etc…I ran through the names of licensed rehabbers in his general area; there was only one in his county, who was not federally licensed—a requirement for dealing with songbirds or raptors. He said none of the names rang a bell, but these people had assured him they could take the bird. While he never returned my call after leaving the bird with these people, against my advice, I’m offering you the same warning and advice I gave him: ask to see the permits of anyone you take wildlife to, to make sure they are licensed for the wildlife in question. If they balk or can’t produce the permits, take the animal and find someone else who WILL produce current permits. There are many people out there who claim to “do rehab” and have never bothered to take the tests and undergo state and federal inspections of their facilities in order to acquire proper licensure. This sets them—and you, if you take them animals—up for hefty fines and even the confiscation and euthanasia of the animals they possess illegally. There are also those who do have state permits but not federal ones, so they should not be dealing with birds other than to triage and transfer to a federally licensed rehabber. I ran into this last year when I received several birds from a local rehabber who was not federally licensed and had raised these birds anyway and then had no clue how to release them, basically because the rehabber had come *this close* to imprinting them to the point of not being releasable and couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t “go away” once their cage door was left open.
I keep copies of both my state and federal permits readily available in case I need to produce them as proof that I am, in fact, licensed for the work that I do. Any rehabber who is properly licensed should be able to do the same upon request. Just a word of advice!
Now to the 2010 year-end report:
Laurens Wildlife Rescue received a total of 247 intakes for 2010. Final outcomes are as follows:
· 23 were transferred—22 raptors and 1 RVS (fox kit)
· 49 were euthanized
· 21 died in care
· 60 were DOA (dead on arrival) (Most of these were the massive possum influx we saw in April/May, with babies that had been removed from the pouches of dead mothers; possums still in the pouch generally don’t survive removal from their mother’s nipples, as their mouths aren’t even fully formed yet.)
· 94 were released
Taking the transfers, DOAs and euthanasias out of play, that means that my release rate for the year was 82%, the same as last year.
I received 162 calls that didn’t result in an intake; most of these were from the Atlanta area and were referred to rehabbers closer to their homes, and several were again from out of state—one from a child in Minnesota, who was referred to a rehabber in her state. The metro-area calls led me to add a special page to the website alerting metro residents that while I was NOT in their area, I would take their animals if they would meet me at least halfway. The others were cases where I was able to advise the caller so that mama and babies were reunited or never separated in the first place.
I racked up 6609 miles picking up, transferring and running animals to the vet, which at the federal mileage allowance of $.50/mile, equates to $3305 in gas expenses. This is lower than last year’s mileage because for 16 days I was without transportation while my transmission was being rebuilt, after it died on me while I was on the way to the vet with a carload of birds.
Food, bedding and other supplies totaled $3386, while professional memberships and registrations and such came to $155. While the cost for memberships and registrations increased, the total spent on food, etc. decreased slightly, in large part because I finally managed to get my mealworm colony well-enough established to reduce my need for as many orders of this expensive favorite “weaning” food for songbirds. I’m not self-sustaining with the mealies yet, but having my own small colony has cut the expenses considerably!
LWR received a $3000 facilities grant, which was used to purchase feeding dishes for birds and mammals (hopefully enough of each that I’ll not run short, even during the height of baby season), extra caging, heating pads for babies needing supplemental heat, food preparation tools, perches, chemical- and dye-free feather dusters (serve as surrogate “mama” to species such as wood ducks, quail and killdeer) and an incubator. (Yes, I do occasionally receive eggs, and the incubator will give them a better chance of hatching than my previous makeshift method.)
Leaving the equipment funded by the grant out of the final expenses, it took a total of $6846 (that includes the mileage allowance) to “give Nature’s children a second chance” in 2010. Donations totaled $1937, only 28% of LWR’s total operating costs—up from 12% last year. With 247 intakes, only 20 people made donations when they brought me animals, for a total of $937. The remaining $1000 in donations came from two families who support LWR with more than just words, even though neither family brought any animals to LWR last year.
Where did the remaining $4909 in operating expenses come from? My own paltry coffers. This is why I stress that kudos are nice but cash keeps the rehabber in business. As I’ve said repeatedly over the past year (repeat along with me, now), respect and admiration don’t fill furry bellies or feathered crops.
Providing for these animals and giving them a second chance at life isn’t cheap, and everyone seems to assume that someone else will step up and help cover the costs. That leaves me making up the rather substantial difference. Sadly, this is true for most rehabbers: we are among those few who can honestly say that we put blood, sweat and tears into our work, along with vast amounts of our own limited funds.
Please keep in mind that YOU are the “somebody else” whose tax-deductible donations can help us continue to compensate for general human stupidity (which I’m STILL not allowed to list as a reason for the animal’s need for rehab) and return these animals to the wild. (Helpful hint: there are PayPal links at the bottom of every page on this site except this one!) Folks, the wildlife I care for is a part of YOUR natural heritage; step up to the plate and assume “ownership” by helping us rehabbers do our jobs!