We are now accepting volunteer applications for the 2021 Baby Season, currently in progress.
The first step to becoming part of the Wildlife Hotline is learning who we are and what we do. We are one organization that does a lot of different things, but primarily we are a 24 hour Hotline that helps the public with wildlife conflicts. That means that people all over Missouri and Illinois call us for help when they find an opossum in their trash can, or a squirrel in their attic, or an injured deer on the side of the road. We answer those calls 24 hours a day via our home and cell phones from our homes. When someone calls the Hotline the call is routed to our volunteers, based on their scheduled times to be on the phones, and it rings everyone at once. When one volunteer answers the phone call, the other volunteers’ phones stop ringing. It’s almost like having a house with a phone in each room. When the phone rings and someone picks up in one room the other phones in the other rooms stops ringing. Each volunteer picks a schedule for when they want their phone to ring and we program that into our phone system so that calls only go to their phone during the days and times they chose. When someone calls the Hotline and no one answers, which shouldn’t happen often, the call is sent to voicemail which is then transcribed automatically into a text message and sent to everyone. We have a chat room where we can post when we’re returning a voicemail call so that everyone knows it’s been handled. Our chat room is run through an app on your cell phone or via a computer or laptop. To volunteer with us you’ll need to have a smartphone with data service or a home pc/laptop that can access our chatroom, as well as a phone where you can receive hotline phone calls. (Home phone or cell phone is fine.)
Sometimes we think of the Hotline as 911 for Wildlife issues. It serves as a main number for everyone to call if they need help with wildlife. However, just like with 911 services, some calls actually need more than telephone help. They need rescue or rehabilitation services, and we do that too. Many of our volunteers that answer the Hotline calls are also licensed, state-permitted wildlife rehabilitators. If our volunteers receive a call from the public where the animal is determined to be in need of more help we will then try to route the caller to the closest rehabber that can help that animal. At times this means that we arrange transport or meet the caller somewhere in order to get the animal into a rehabber, or it may involve volunteers having to go onsite and provide rescue services if the animal is stuck in a fence, fell down a manhole, etc. We handle those calls on a case by case basis. Some of those animals end up here with our rehabbers where they receive veterinary care, vaccines, wormers, food, and ultimately rehabilitation until they can be released to the wild again.
With the help of our vast network of rehabilitators, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, emergency medical technicians, and critical care rescue specialists, we successfully assist, rescue, rehabilitate and re-release over 1000 native wild animals each year. When wildlife is found sick, injured, or orphaned throughout Missouri and Illinois, we are here to help- 24/7/365. Often, we are called as the last or only option that is willing to try to sustain these animal’s lives. We do not believe that some animals are too small or insignificant to justify heroic efforts to save them.
To us, every life matters, no matter how large or small. Animal welfare is not a popularity contest or beauty pageant. When we say EVERY life matters – we mean it. From skunk to opossum, and mouse to snake, we do our best to give these animals the best possible chance in life whenever possible. In cases where the extension of life will only lead to immense suffering, we take comfort in knowing that we have the ability to offer a humane, peaceful end to that suffering. The work we do here is our gift back to Mother Nature, and a step toward making this world a place that we can be happy to live within. We feel enormously blessed every day just to be granted the opportunity to play a small part in these precious wild lives that so many people choose to view as worthless and expendable.
If you are anything like US, we know that you will share these feelings. Volunteering your time with the Wildlife Hotline will not only be an opportunity that you will cherish, but it will become part of you in ways you cannot yet imagine. In the past you may have been called too sensitive, or crazy, or worse for daring to care about something that your own friends, family and neighbors refer to as filthy ‘nuisance’ animals, but you can officially put all of that in the past now.
You are one of us…Welcome Home!
Special Note: In order to accept sick, injured and orphaned wildlife patients you MUST have a wildlife rehab permit from the Missouri Dept of Conservation or the Illinois Dept of Natural Resources. We are not an agency that can issue wildlife permits. We can assist you in obtaining a permit by providing you with training, experience, and helping you through the application process, but in the end, the decision to grant you a permit is made by a governmental agency, and we are not a governmental agency. This is important to understand! Every year we have volunteers that apply to work with the Wildlife Hotline because they believe that we will grant you a wildlife rehab permit. We cannot do that. However, we fully support your efforts in obtaining a permit. We need more permitted rehabbers! We will do all that we can to help prepare you so that you will be able to obtain a permit of your own. However, there is a LOT to learn before that can happen and it is a process that will not happen overnight. Before getting a permit you will need to learn about every native species of animal, plus the proper nutrition, medications, veterinary medical procedures, rehab techniques, and protocols, caging specifications, enrichment items, release criteria, and much more! Expect to train for at least one baby season (March – October) before applying for a permit. If that is your goal, plan to be VERY involved with another permitted person the first year and learn all that you can during that time. We estimate that training a new rehabber requires at least 25 hours per week for at least 6 months, but it varies with each person and their previous experience.
We are always in need of more volunteers, year round. Our busiest time of year is from March through August when baby bunnies, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, skunks, opossums, birds, owls, hawks, and many others arrive in need of help after being found all alone and orphaned in the world. We receive $0 in state or federal funding to help us provide the essential services we offer to the public. Because of this extremely limited funding, it is imperative that we keep our operational and administrative costs very low. The staff here at the Wildlife Hotline consists ENTIRELY of selflessly dedicated, tireless volunteers, with no salaries to cut into our meager private funding. This allows us to devote 100% of donations directly to our patient’s care.
If you are at least 18 years of age and have an interest in wildlife, nature, and animals, we would love to see you soon. We need all the help we can get!