There is perhaps no other creature that brings forth the protective and nurturing instincts in people more than the whitetail fawn. Its delicate spindly legs, large expressive eyes with long lashes and sweet defenselessness can make the most hardened heart melt. If one encounters this endearing infant out in the wild, it is understandable to want to "save it" from all of the perceived dangers present in the world. I hope to alleviate the misconceptions about the parenting style of the whitetail doe and prevent the unintentional kidnapping of these babies.
When asked what initially hooked our staff into a career in wildlife and what keeps our volunteers returning year after year, the answer is often feeding baby squirrels. For many of us, the first time an infant squirrel was put into our hands, we were captivated. The planets align, the orchestra plays, the part of us that has seemed missing is magically restored. It may seem overly dramatic, but the scene of Harry Potter receiving his wand is what we equate that moment with!
The other day I was conversing with a friend about why I am so dedicated to working for this nonprofit organization, Wildwoods. The rewards are not monetary and often are not easily obtained. However hard-earned the successes may be, it is all worth the emotional benefits. Since I was very young, I felt a kinship with the wild creatures in my world. Finding this organization where I could care for my wild family in need just felt like being home.
He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter. — John Burroughs
At Wildwoods we typically do not take in domestic animals. But what we are finding more and more of, sadly, are domestic ducks and geese that have been released into the wild to fend for themselves. We get calls about these friendly birds approaching people as winter sets in. People assume they are injured because they cannot fly, when in reality they are just cold, hungry and scared. If we didn't take them in, they would have nowhere else to go.
I have been reflecting on the animals that I have helped this year, the people I have met and the stories that tie us all together. Working with wildlife, I always have a story to tell. I experience situations that in the moment can leave me speechless, but make for compelling anecdotes afterwards. I see heroic, selfless actions performed by compassionate people, heartbreaking injuries and suffering, sweet antics of infant creatures and miraculous recoveries.
Many of us have grown perhaps too accustomed to our surrounding environment and the flora and fauna that inhabit it. The spruce, birch, gray squirrels, pigeons, seagulls and sparrows have all become the background for our busy lives. If only we could observe our familiar wild neighbors the same way a tourist views the exotic and curious creatures in an unfamiliar land.
"Saving one animal won't change the world, but for that one animal, the world has forever changed." — Unknown author
I have begun a career in wildlife rehab this past year. It is honestly the most fulfilling and meaningful work I have ever done. I can share stories about amazing creatures and the courageous and compassionate people who go out of their way to rescue them. I am often gratefully astonished at the kindness and generosity of my fellow humans. A few weeks ago something occurred that I wish I didn't have to share, but I feel I must. A distressed man brought in a pigeon that had been brutally beaten by children.