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Month in Review December, 2011

In order to keep the public updated on what the Hotline is up to, we have begun a new feature on the website. We will be posting our month and week in review for readers to see a run down on the calls we have received.  We list this same information, but more frequently on our Facebook page as well.  If you haven’t already, be sure to “like” us on Facebook.

December, 2011 Wildlife Hotline Call Highlights

  • Many, many calls about coyotes last month.  One in Ballwin with mange and injuries that we never could catch but did get medicine to finally.  Another group of coyotes in Deer Run Park in Maplewood, MO that was being grumpy about a bridge in the park and not letting people near it.  But the majority of the coyote calls were from residents who were just surprised to see a coyote anywhere in their area, and were worried about their dogs, children, and general well being.  We have done a lot of educating the public about coyotes in December.  In fact, we received so many calls about coyotes last month that we started tracking the cities that we were getting calls from.  We started this mid-month but still came up with a fairly extensive list:
    • Chesterfield, MO – Hwy 40 & Boone’s Crossing, behind Wal-Mart and other stores
    • Maplewood, MO – Manchester and Hanley behind office park by railroad tracks
    • Ballwin, MO – Near the Ballwin Golf Club off of Claymont Drive
    • Edwardsville, IL – Hwy 157 on East side in fields and woods right next to hwy and neighborhood there
    • Independence, MO – Woodlawn Park & Cemetery
    • Pleasant Hill, MO – Baldwin Park and neighborhood nearby
    • Kirksville, MO – Just North of  Truman State University off of East Normal St.
    • Lake of the Ozarks – banks of the 48 mile marker and nearby homes
    • Joplin, MO – Landreth Park & Ozark Cemetery
    • Cape Girardeau, MO – Off of Hwy K and Edgewood Ave. near a day care facility
We have done our best to educate the residents, police, and animal control officers as best as we can, but it is never enough. You can help too by downloading the fact sheets that we have from Project Coyote and hanging them in your break room, local park, kid’s soccer park, and front door of your business.  You can download the poster here and the Coyote Fact Sheet here, or let us know if you would like one mailed to you at [email protected]
  • A goose with fishing line wrapped around his leg over next to the St. Louis Galleria.  His foot was dangling from the fishing line and not even attached to his leg and anymore, and the line around his leg still looked like it was tightly wound and cutting off circulation.  But he could still swim, and he could still fly, making him completely un-catch-able.  Generally, ducks and geese with foot and leg injuries will do okay in the wild. They may not be as fast as their two legged counterparts, but if they can still swim and still fly, they’ll do alright.
  • The hotline responded to quite a few birds of prey calls in December.  Multiple hawks that we’re down on the road with injuries in the Kansas City and Springfield area, as well as three different owl injuries in the St. Louis area.  We actually get a lot more calls than that on these birds, but many of them do not need intervention. For example we received a call from Lambert Airport in St. Louis about an eagle and a hawk that both were sitting on the runway and wouldn’t move.  Chances are this was an adult eagle and a somewhat young eagle that doesn’t have his eagle-look yet, and they probably ran into one of the airports many huge windows.  As soon as they recovered and weren’t stunned anymore, they flew away perfectly healthy.  We get a lot of those types of calls.
  • December also brought in plenty of calls about critters invading resident’s homes and yards. Most wildlife species stock up for winter by eating everything they can lay their hands on before winter comes. With our weather this year, they’ve had an extra amount of time to do that stocking up. So opossums are eating bird seed and dog food left in the yard, raccoons are getting into the trash more than usual, hawks are stalking the bird feeders more than normal, and skunks are digging as deep as possible to find bugs and worms to eat before they freeze.  At the same time these critters are trying to develop their plan of where they will hide out when the real winter weather finally comes. (If it’s going to this year!) So they’re house shopping in our attics, basements, sheds, wood piles, and under porches trying to find the perfect piece of real estate for warmth and safety through winter.
  • Deer hunting season and rutting season brought the Hotline much more than our normal share of calls!  We were inundated with hunter calls asking about laws and regulations, county’s rules, season dates, and telecheck procedures.  We attempted to help where we could, when we could find the information easily on the Conservation Departments web site, but all too often we had to ask these calls to check with the Conservation department themselves before they do something possibly criminal.  There is no way for our staff to stay on top of every rule and regulation for every county in Missouri and Southwestern Illinois.  It changes from city to city and county to county, and it’s really tough to keep it all straight.  But that’s okay – of the calls we received, they were very understandable, kind, and humane, educated hunters.  Those are the kind we love!  We were surprised by the hunting calls though, as our normal deer call is when one has been injured and the caller wants to rescue it, not hunt it.  It was a bit of an adjustment for us.  MDC’s support was a life saver on these calls.

Healthy Raccoons

  • December had the normal staple of raccoon calls as well, with their being a spike in the number of distemper cases.  We handled 10+ distempered raccoon calls in December, all of which we had no choice but to have them euthanized and end their suffering.  Distemper is a disease that is contagious to dogs just like a cold would be, in the air and with contact with an infected animal, and it is absolutely deadly.  Treatments are available when you catch it early enough, but with the raccoons we always end up getting the call about them after it is too late to do anything but put them out of their misery and protect the public from a very unstable wild animal.  We wish that more of these cases were handled by county and city animal control departments, but with years of downed economy and budget cuts in almost every region, most areas have policies now prohibiting them from picking up, putting down, or responding to any wildlife calls.  The Conservation Department has limited availability to assist with these calls either, leaving the hotline volunteers with the bulk of these rescues.
  • We also saw an upswing of groundhogs with a condition we call “Baylis” for short, which stems from the roundworm parasite invading the animal’s brain and causes severe neurological symptoms.  These infected groundhogs can turn aggressive and scare people quite a bit, running in circles, running at a house, shed, tree, and banging their head into objects, and acting extremely unpredictably.  This condition is irreversible, as the parasite has truly ‘eaten’ away parts of the brain, and there is not a way to get those parts of the brain back.  Again, we’re left with euthanasia as our only option.  The public gets extremely dismayed with how often euthanasia comes into these rescues, but ask any rehabber – Sometimes the best, most humane, most compassionate thing we can do for an animal is to put it to sleep and end its suffering.  It is so much better than letting that animal wander into traffic, get hit and suffer injuries that cause him to die slowly and painfully, or letting the disease run its course and eventually kill them painfully, or having that animal freeze, starve, dehydrate, get covered in bugs, etc.  We figure that it’s better to have them die warm, with a full belly, alongside compassionate people, painlessly, and peacefully than any of the alternatives.  It’s a difficult part of what we do, but a necessary evil.

Raccoon Family Dumpster

  • December also brought the hotline plenty of trash can calls!  Raccoons stuck in dumpsters, opossums stuck in resident’s personal trash cans, squirrels jumping out of dumpsters and scaring people, a deer carcass that someone tried to just ‘throw away’ and the trash company wouldn’t pick it up, and many more.  One man’s trash seems to be another man’s wildlife problem in our world.
  • We also had quite a few songbirds that ended up in chimneys and fireplaces in December.  Remember that birds can only fly up when they can also fly forward.  They cannot ‘hover’ and lift/fly straight up, making it impossible for them to get out of a tight spot like a chimney without help.  The easiest solution for this it to let the bird fall out of the chimney and into the fireplace (with no fire of course!) so you can open the front door or window and let him fly back outdoors.  To prevent this from happening, install a chimney cap on the roof.
  • The press was very nice to the hotline during the month of December, with multiple articles being written and published celebrating our praises.  If you haven’t already, please check out these links to read the fantastic articles we have been featured in.

St. Louis Beacon 

North St. Louis News Magazine – NoCo

West County News Magazine

Christian County Headliner News

Missouri Outdoors

St. Louis Post Dispatch

As well as multiple cities and counties featuring us on their websites for their residents – Branson, Perryville, Kirkwood, Springfield, Smithville, St. Genevieve, Odesssa, Creve Coeur, and Cape Girardeau.  Plus, many city’s and county’s police, fire, and emergency departments have been referring wildlife calls to the Hotline – St. Louis City Police Department, St. Louis City & County 911 Services, the St. Louis City Citizen’s Service Bureau, Lee’s Summit Police & Animal Control, St. Louis City & County Animal Control, Kansas City police, fire, 911, Humane Societies in multiple areas, and the Missouri Dept. of Conservation.  We hope we didn’t miss anyone!

We would like to formally thank every writer, city, county, and webmaster for taking the time to help us spread the word.  We sincerely appreciate the help and the critters of Missouri & Illinois are very grateful to you as well.  We hope that the next time all of you see a squirrel in park, geese in a pond, raccoon in a tree, or opossum in a trash can, you will smile a little more than usual knowing that you have played a part in saving their lives and getting the proper care for them in their time of need.  Thank you all!!

A Raccoon Round of Applause for Our Supporters!

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