We are licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators through the State of Connecticut, DEP who devote our time, energy and our hearts in the hopes of giving our native wildlife a second chance in their natural habitat if they become injured or orphaned. We care directly for the animals feeding, cleaning, and providing basic medical care. We do not get any state funding for our work. We rely on donations from the public. Some of us will transport animals - from one rehabber to another, to/from a veterinarian, or picking up an animal in need of our help from a Good Samaritan. We educate the public on how to peacefully co-exist with our wild neighbors. We and the help of volunteers donate our time helping to build upon the framework of our organization by utilizing our skills in what we do best. Such as bookkeeping, fundraising, web design, grant writing, photography skills, writing articles, research, education, and so much more. We are consistently on call to field emergency calls and offer advice while locating the closest/most available rehabilitator for the animal in question. It is a team effort, encompassing a broad network of other wildlife rehabilitators/organizations who want to make a difference. EVERY role is an important one!
Rehabilitators make every effort to foster each animal in a manner most closely resembling the care its mother would provide in the wild, especially diet and shelter. Every species has different requirements. Depending on the age/weight of the baby, the frequency of feedings can vary from every 2 hours around the clock to once daily. Raccoons like to climb and live up high so their cages are built with that in mind. Squirrels are given leaves to aid in learning how to build their future homes. Researching the natural history of each species is extremely helpful. The more knowledge we are armed with, the better care we will be able to provide for each animal and the higher our success rate at releasing them will be.
Most licensed rehabilitators work directly out of their homes while others work at a wildlife facility. We work out of our homes due to the reason that we rehab mostly orphans which require around the clock feedings. Those of us working behind the scenes (web design, marketing, fundraising, data entry etc.) work directly out of our headquarters in Stratford.
Generally there are two busy seasons: March - June and August - October. Different animals have different breeding seasons, but early spring and late summer are the most common. Sometimes animals will require over-wintering which can last as long as four months. This can be the result of a late litter/inability to reunite with mom. Bunnies are generally releasable after three weeks; raccoons require an initial two week quarantine period, followed by five months of care prior to release. During the off peak times, we plan for the next season and rest up!
Reading. Researching. Asking questions. Attending seminars, lectures, and conferences (at our own expense). Hands-on experience. Networking with other rehabilitators is invaluable; each rehabber generally has more experience with a specific species (usually by choice) and can help answer questions and solve problems based upon their extensive knowledge. Each species is different and should be treated based upon their unique needs and habits. For example, if a squirrel and bunny contracted similar infections, they would both be given antibiotics. However, while penicillin would be effective in treating the squirrel, it would kill the bunny - another type of antibiotic would be appropriate for the bunny. This is just one reason why even the most well intentioned individual should never try to treat an injured or orphaned baby - a call to an experienced wildlife rehabilitator can mean the difference between life and death for that baby. We keep current on new ways to treat compromised babies, yet still rely on old methods that have proven effective for us; both will ensure a greater number of successful releases. Sharing experiences both happy and sad with other rehabilitators can make a difference in the next animal we rescue. We are on a continual learning path.
Some people may question why we devote untold hours in an effort to rescue injured and/or orphaned babies instead of letting nature take its course. Our intent is not to interfere with the balance of nature such as a hawk preying on a squirrel or bunny in order to feed HER young. However, when man is the cause (intentionally or not) whether it be a car, a lawnmower, tree removal, the family dog or cat we do our best to help these compromised babies and keep the circle of life in balance by releasing them back into a more natural habitat away from the dangers of civilization. Wildlife rehabilitators feel a special connection with, and desire to help, compromised wildlife. Not everyone understands this connection and we are sometimes met with resistance: the homeowner who will not permit a family to be reunited (ALWAYS our first hope) or would rather see wildlife destroyed if they eat their flowers or birdseed or nest in their attics. Oftentimes, people are just intentionally cruel. It is our goal to help the unfortunate ones who are affected by these various circumstances (Even Mother Nature can compromise wildlife!) We CANNOT save them all but at the end of the day, we can ALWAYS say that we have done our best. And that, in some small way, helps to make the world a better place in which to co-exist with, and enjoy, these special creatures. These animals do have a right to life in the wild and we are here to help them.