Call the experts before helping distressed wildlife
It’s that time of year when bunnies are just venturing out into the grass. Small birds are learning how to leave the nest. And newborn deer are stretching those long legs.
It’s also a time of year when the phone at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center rings almost constantly. Most often in the wild, these animals are born and grow independent of humans. But when concerned residents encounter baby wildlife that may need help, wildlife staff at the Center is happy to be a resource.
“This is definitely our busiest time of year,” says Amy LeMonds, director of wildlife.
If you come across an animal you feel may need assistance, LeMonds offers some guidance. Safety, she says, should be a priority and asks that people never risk their own safety to help an animal.
The best course of action is to call the trained staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center before intervening. LeMonds and her team are always happy to answer questions or provide resources to callers. They do it frequently – over 4,000 calls came in last year alone.
Their primary goal during that conversation is to determine if human intervention is necessary. “We have a top-notch rehabilitation facility and staff but we’ll never be able to provide the same quality of care these animals would get from their parents in their natural environment,” she says. When possible, she works to see that animals remain in the wild.
In some cases, however, treatment and care are vital. In 2014 there were over 1,300 cases where wildlife patients were admitted to Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. The staff works tirelessly to stabilize, medicate, nourish and treat the animal with the ultimate goal of releasing it back into the wild.
Wildlife staff can be reached at 440-471-8357 during the Center’s hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. If you find an animal outside these times, it is best kept in a small, dark and quiet place. Ideally the animal should be kept in a container only slightly larger than itself to reduce the risk of further injury. No food or drink should be offered.
“It is a pleasure to teach people about how amazing our local wildlife is," LeMonds said. "We’re so thankful to all the people who appreciate and care for our wild neighbors.”
Wendy Hanna is a staff member with Lake Erie Nature & Science Center