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October Rescue Calls…

Last week was a busy one, for winter especially!

resizedmink10/21/13:  One of our wildlife specialists, Sandie received a call about a mink that wasn’t doing well, dragging itself around in a Belleville, Illinois back yard.  We don’t get many calls about minks in the Metro area, and we all kind of joked that we’d be surprised if it REALLY was a mink before Sandie left to go get it.  Sure enough though, it’s a mink! Mink are native to Missouri & Illinois and they like to be near rivers and streams. They’re beautiful animals and tons of fun to watch, but SO MEAN!  It’s like a ferret on steroids, with lots of little teeth and the speed of a brown little demon.  Nevertheless, Sandie came back from this call a little bloody, battered, and bruised, but the mink is now is her care.  She is not using her back legs at all. It appears to be a spinal injury of some kind. We are treating her and following up with our veterinarian Dr. Hallie Feagans of Family Pet Hospital in Sunset Hills, MO. We’re okay with her staying mean, just as long as she can walk too!  (Photo at left)

10/22/13: We have received many phone calls this week in regards to coyotes that have mange and are acting strangely.  Normal, healthy coyotes should not approach you or your pets, or hang out near your home getting into garbage cans and sleeping in your yard.  When a coyote acts this way, something is very wrong.  Either you or the neighbors are feeding this coyote and have made it friendly and confused, or the coyote is sick and ultimately, dying.  Most often in our area, the sickness we see in coyotes is Sarcoptic Mange. This is caused by a skin mite that causes constant itching and hair loss, until the animal is so exhausted that he can no longer hunt, and cold from the lack of a coat to keep him warm at night.  The good news is – this is a REALLY easy sickness to treat!  We have a mange program through the Hotline where we can mail out medication bait that a property owner can throw out in the area where they see the coyote most often. The coyote then eats the bait and begins to get better, grow his coat back, and stop itching which will make hunting much more profitable in the next few weeks. ( Trapping coyotes has proven to be largely ineffective with traditional live traps. )  You do not have to LIKE coyotes to want to treat one for mange. When a coyote is well, they are invisible, never seen, rarely heard, and they leave people alone. Treating one for mange not only protects your family and pets, but it protects the whole neighborhood, plus shows that you have compassion for any living thing that is suffering, likable or not.fb01a8d01f290131e5481ebcd6ef3b19

10/23/13: This time of year we’re almost done releasing all of the babies that we raised all year long. Right now, that means squirrels that are going back to the wild. We have a method of getting squirrels ready for the outside world after rehab with us that involves giving them a wooden ‘house’ called a squirrel box, where they can sleep, keep warm, and stash food and bedding for the impending winter.  Normally we allow our squirrels to have access to these squirrel boxes for at least 3 weeks before we release them with their box.  On the day of their release, we close the ‘door’ on the front of the box while they are sleeping inside, and we take them to the release site.  We hang the squirrel box on a tall tree with a couple of screws and open the front door to let the squirrels out.  Eventually, they come out to explore and still have a home that they know to go back to whenever they want.  Sometimes squirrels use these boxes for years after they are released.  Many times though, they use it for one winter and that’s it. They find other places to hang out and sleep, and we can reuse the box.  One of our specialists was gathering her old squirrel boxes for releases this past week and found something unexpected inside!  A little opossum had moved into one of her squirrel boxes and found himself a nice little home!  Silly opossums, this house is for squirrels!

10/24/13: We received a call from a lady in Springfield, MO that had found four baby mice in her home without a mother. The caller felt terrible for the babies, and asked us to intervene.  Typically mice are extremely difficult to rehabilitate and don’t survive very long in our care.  However, in Springfield we have a great wildlife specialist, Georgia, that was willing to give it a try.  So far, they’re doing really well!  We did lose one, but three little girl mice are eating, sleeping, and now have their eyes open too!  You’ve got to admit – they’re pretty cute at this stage. They will be released back to the outdoors in 2 weeks or so.

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100_853610/25/13:  A resident from Zalma, MO called in on Friday the 25th because they had found an American Coot in their pasture the day before that didn’t seem to be able to walk. During the fall and into winter this is a more common call for us. Coots are strange looking black-duck-like birds with really odd feet, and they only know how to take off into flight from a body of water.  Usually when they need ‘rescue’ it’s because they can’t find a body of water to take off from.  We explained this to the caller and asked them to take the bird to the nearest body of water to see how it does.  The coot did get in the water, but it couldn’t swim well and was falling over to his left side.  This was not a good sign.  The caller put the bird back in the crate she had for him and we instructed her to take it to our rehab partner in the Sikeston Area to get help.  The coot is now in the care of Watkins Wildlife and still not using his legs at all. He has no wounds, no leg breaks, nothing visible to explain his condition. However, he eats well and has a lot of strength.  For now we’re giving him supportive care to see how he does and go from there. If he still cannot feel or move his legs by the end of the week this week, we will be forced to euthanize him due to his condition.

10/25 /13: Back in Belleville, Illinois, we receive a call from a lady that has a raccoon stuck in her garage ceiling. Apparently the homeowner had 24315d7020820131c878628e85eedd50left the door to the garage open that evening, and then inadvertently closed the door on the raccoon. He ended up stuck in the garage overnight and was quite spooked by the next morning. The resident didn’t want to open the garage door to let him out because he was IN the gears of the door, and he would get hurt, plus do considerable damage to the door opener. Our Illinois Wildlife Specialists, Sandie, was dispatched to safely and humanely remove the raccoon. She used a catch pole to lasso the little guy and lead him back to the outdoors where he belonged.  He was frightened enough to pee all over the place, but no worse for wear at the end of the day.

10/26/13: Hotline received a call from a resident of Lebanon, Illinois that has an adult female raccoon that they would like to give up to a rehabber. This happens every year. In the spring people find baby raccoons, squirrels, bunnies, deer, etc. and they think that they are orphaned (or sometimes they just think they’re cute!) and they take them into their homes. Some people tell us that they couldn’t find anyone to help them, but we are 24 hours now making it a tough sell to say they couldn’t reach us. They raise these babies to be pets, in a much different way than we would have done so as rehabbers. There really are special protocols to raising wildlife in a way that allows them to be released into the wild again. Not getting the animal to a rehabber and being raised properly is often a death sentence for the animal. For those that do make it, eventually the family that raised them gets tired of having a wild animal in their home, tearing up their things, starting to get aggressive, and pacing a cage wanting out.  That’s when they finally call us. On Saturday we received one of these calls. These callers are always REALLY nice people. They were only trying to help the animal in the first place! It’s just sad that we couldn’t intervene sooner, and


there are many residents just like this that will never call us because the animal doesn’t make it.  This adult raccoon was born in the spring, and now does not know she’s a raccoon. She needs to be acclimated to the outdoors, and learn how to stay away from people. We don’t want our released animals walking up to people and saying hello. A lot of people would run away screaming if a raccoon wanted to approach you!  This raccoon is now in our care and will probably stay the full 120 days our permit allows to let her get used to being a raccoon.  Then she will return to the wild where she belongs!

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