Monday, August 24, 2009

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 08/24/2009

The wildlife rehabilitation process is exclusive in a way. Unless you are part of the staff or one of the volunteers, you don’t really get to participate in the day to day reality of preparing an injured, orphaned, or ill animal to go back into the wild. The onset of the process….the finding and delivering part….might be the last you, a caring member of the public, gets to see of the animal that you have invested time and energy into. It is very difficult for us to try to keep you in the loop regarding the well being of that particular animal. If almost 4000 animals a year come in for our assistance the ability to keep each person in the loop becomes overwhelming and just isn’t practical. For this I feel bad, particularly when it is an animal that I have found and brought in for care. I don’t ask nor am I told what happened to the curved bill thrasher I found in my front yard. It just has to be that way from a practicality point of view.

There is one time, however, when the public can be involved and that is when we do a release in a public area like one of the city, county or state parks. In general we try to release an animal back to the area it came from if it is a safe place. For the orphans that we release we have a little more flexibility and look for suitable habitat which varies according to the needs of that particular species.

Such a release occurred this past Saturday. If you are one of those who follows the Calendar section of the Arizona Republic you might have seen No. 5 of the Top Ten Arts and Events last week. It was an announcement of a “Wild Owl Release” in Estrella Mountain Regional Park by Park Rangers including Patricia Armstrong and Liberty Volunteers, Jessica Sehr and Neil Shumman.

Watching an animal go back into the wild has to be one of the most thrilling things a person can do. We try to make each release special with a huge dose of education accompanying something personal for each participant. It is the culmination of what might have been a lengthy process with a number of people involved along the way. We do make a point of not getting attached….each animal is assigned a number, no name. However, each animal takes with it back into the wild the many good vibes from the days, weeks, months, or years of care and tending, and it is hard to send them off without a bittersweet feeling…..fear for their well being, wishes for their never having to come in contact with humans again…against their wills…coupled with the happiness of the success and the absolute thrill of being so close to the magic of the natural world.

We hope that each of you will have an opportunity to participate with us in the joyous return of one of our charges….back into the way out yonder.

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