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Christmas Critters

owl-thanksThe staff at the Bi-State Wildlife Hotline would like to sincerely thank everyone who came out over the holiday season to support our organization. The kind words, smiling faces, emotional and financial support were overwhelming – and much needed! It feels wonderful to know that we are making an impact and providing a service that is needed and appreciated.  During the colder months of the year we are especially grateful for any words of encouragement or donations of any kind.  We like to consider ourselves noble, altruistic folks that do this work for the animals alone, however thankless they might be. (Adult squirrels and raccoons can be pretty thankless!)  Honestly though, we really love seeing and hearing the public’s appreciation of what we do.  Knowing that there are likeminded people out there who agree with the principles we live and work by really counts for something. On some of our tough days, that kind word or $5 donation is the only thing that gets us through it, and it helps us pull ourselves out of bed the next day. It’s a good lesson in general I suppose… Say something kind today. Tell someone that you appreciate them. You never know how much that person may need those words today.

Cold weather has arrived.  That general ‘grey’ theme that Missouri dons each winter is upon us. We receive much different phone calls in winter. Gone are the calls about baby squirrels making the dog crazy, replaced with calls about squirrels taking up residence in the attic, trying to stay warm through the winter.  The ‘adorable’ fox kits and coyote puppies playing in the sprinkler in spring and summer have grown up. Now we get the calls about those same foxes and coyotes, but they are skinny, balding with mange, and freezing. The raccoon distemper outbreak still hasn’t subsided and even seems to be spreading, and car accidents are more common and more deadly with the complication of bad weather.

raccoon012It is the way of nature, and there isn’t much that anyone can or should do about it. Our purpose is not always to prevent or solve these issues, but to offer a humane ending to unnecessary suffering whenever possible. It’s a tough job to do this time of year. Wildlife Rehabilitators across the country are trying to get through another winter without losing sight of the good that we do while immersed in a sea of euthanasia.  We will attempt to keep our sanity while baiting chicken to treat mange cases, picking up distemper raccoons to end their misery, and teaching callers how to evict the unwelcome visitors in their attics.  We know all too well that this too shall pass. Before long spring will come and hungry babies will take over our crates, cages, cars and homes and the rewards will be tangible again.

 One of Our Recent Rescues

Christmas Eve the Hotline received a call from a Wildwood resident who happened to live on Christmas Valley Rd.  What are the chances of that?  The resident was concerned about a coyote that was hiding under their back porch. They had tried to encourage the coyote to move on and run away, but it wasn’t working.  Then they noticed that the poor animal had very little body hair and was extremely skinny.  One of our rescuers went out to take a look and ended up taking the coyote to her car with nothing more than a small leash. That would have never worked with a healthy coyote!

Christmas Eve Coyote with Mange

Christmas Eve Coyote with Mange

He looked absolutely terrible. Most of the time, these symptoms in coyotes and foxes are due to a condition called ‘Sarcoptic Mange’. Mange is caused by a mite (microscopic tiny spider-bugs) infection. The mites burrow intoskin and lay eggs and the larva crawls all over the host, both of which cause extreme itching. Many people callmange by the name of ‘scabies’. While similar to scabies, mange is not exactly the same mite and is far less contagious. Unless your pet has direct contact with a mange infected animal, there isn’t anything to worry about. Mange is not technically fatal, but it causes the host to not sleep well because ofitching, and they lose the ability to keep warm because of the hair loss.  Eventually they are too exhausted from scratching to hunt causing starvation, while the hair loss causes hypothermia. It’s a miserable affliction. The coyote from Christmas Eve was far too sick and underweight to survive.  The most humane thing we could do for him was to end his suffering.  We are actually thankful that we were able to do that for him. The thought of him freezing to death under a porch, starving, on Christmas Eve is too much to bear.

Christmas Day brought another holiday related rescue, with a raccoon wrapped up in some Christmas lights.  He escaped from his entanglement though, and did just fine after that.  Other than the distemper raccoon calls that continue to come in, and an abundance of injured hawks and owls, the Hotline doesn’t have a ton of activity this time of year.  We are going to skip the call log for the next few weeks.  Instead we will just post a couple of call highlights, and topics that we are getting the most calls about.  If you have a question or topic that you would like us to cover in our blog, please email us at [email protected] and we will try to address it here for you.

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