Tag Archives: rehabilitation

Conference provides loads of info to wildlife rehabilitators

Attendees settle in at the conference.

Attendees settle in at the conference.
Tracie Hornung photo

By Tracie Hornung

Dr. Jean Cypher and volunteers of Rowena Wildlife Center recently traveled to Salem to attend the one-day Third Biennial Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference, sponsored by the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Highlights included cutting-edge speakers in the wildlife health and rehabilitation community. Staff members, volunteers and students involved with wildlife rehabilitation centers in Oregon and Washington attended.

It’s always fun being in a room full of “animal people” and this conference was no exception. And it was encouraging to see a broad range of ages – from experts who have been working with wildlife for decades to young students and volunteers just starting out in the field.

A whole lot of information was packed into the eight-hour conference. Physical rehabilitation, pain management, behavior, and recent research pertaining to birds and mammals were among the many topics. But I found the three most interesting were on positive reinforcement training by Cascade Raptor Center, black bear rehabilitation at PAWS Wildlife Center in Washington state, and the ODFW presentation on white-nose syndrome in bats. Bat researchers are trying to find the answer to why white-nose syndrome “jumped” across the continental U.S. from Minnesota to Washington, where the syndrome was found this spring. See the ODFW press release.

Other topics at the conference were:

  •  Release Criteria
  •  Criteria for selection of education birds
  •  Biosecurity and zoonotic disease
  •  Raptor re-feeding syndrome
  •  Seabird facility design and air sampling
  •  Small mammal rehab
  •  Update on regulations

This conference was a worthwhile experience for wildlife rehabilitators, and it’s great that the state clearly values and encourages the work of independent rehabilitation centers.

Dog saves flying squirrel

By Tracie Hornung

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrel. Photo by Larry Master, courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

It’s not every day that Rowena Wildlife Clinic treats a flying squirrel—fortunately!

The little guy, dubbed Rocky during his rehabilitation, was fetched off the ground by the landowners’ dog and carried to the porch. The  squirrel was cold and so young his eyes had not yet opened. The landowners assume he fell from the nest.

Surprisingly, Rocky had no injuries, and after several weeks of basic care and lots of pampering at Rowena WIldlife Clinic he was ready for release. Some volunteers attached a nest box to a tree so that he could acclimate to the wild on his own terms. Since then he has been coming and going, and is now a fully independent and healthy adult flying squirrel!

 

Flying Squirrel Box

Flying Squirrel nest box. Photo by Tom Keffer.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, flying squirrels might more appropriately be called “gliding squirrels,” because they aren’t capable of true powered flight such as a bird or a bat. Flying squirrels glide. They have a special membrane between their front and back legs that allows them to glide through the air between trees. When a flying squirrel wants to travel to another tree without touching the ground, it launches itself from a high branch and spreads out its limbs so that the gliding membrane is exposed. It uses slight movements of the legs to steer, and the tail acts as a brake upon reaching its destination. Flying squirrels can cover more than 150 feet in a single glide!

To learn more about flying squirrels, visit the National Wildlife Federation.

Fawn hit by car can expect normal adulthood

By Tracie Hornung

Bruno  after he was rescued

Dr. Cypher and Bruno shortly after he was rescued. Jane Keeler photo.

Bruno the fawn got lucky when a caring woman named Jane rescued him moments after he’d had the worst luck of his young life: he’d been hit by a car.

Jane saw the baby deer lying in the middle of the road, unable to move. As she ran over to pick him up and move him into the grass, she saw what she assumed to be his mother and sibling watching her.

Jane called Rowena Wildlife Clinic and explained the situation with the injured fawn, including the fact that she was driving alone. But Dr. Jean Cypher told her if the fawn had a broken leg, which seemed probable, it would be fairly easy to transport him in her car.

Jane swaddled the fawn in a towel to keep him calm, put him on her lap and hoped for the best as she drove the nearly 30 miles to the clinic.  They arrived safely at the clinic but, said Jane, “It was quite challenging driving with a baby deer in my lap!”

When Dr. Cypher saw the fawn she could tell he was in shock and that he had not one, but two, broken legs. He had a left tibial fracture and a right heel fracture, rendering the Achilles tendon useless. And he’d also lost the tip of his tail.

“The surgery was a long one,” said Dr. Cypher, “done in two stages over the next few days. Initially we pinned the left leg and also tunneled some wire under the muscle and tendon of the right heel, looping it around some pins driven into the right prominence of the heel. It was a four-handed repair − my assistant Elijah had to help, and his mechanical experience was pretty useful.”

Bruno was able to stand the evening after surgery, but the right leg was painful and he tried to put his weight on the left leg.

“However, that leg made an awful grinding noise when he used it,” said Dr. Cypher, adding that he needed additional pins to keep the lower bones from rotating around the internal and medial pins.

“So I anesthetized him again a few days later, and drove pins from the outside and the front of the leg, attaching the frame to the previous pins. Once the left leg was stable, it was painful, as is usually the case if you have to drive pins through the large muscles on the outside of the leg. Luckily by then, the right leg was increasingly useful to him. He started to do short three-legged walks outside over the next three weeks.”

Halfway through Bruno's healing

This photo of Bruno and another fawn patient was taken halfway through Bruno’s healing. Dr. Jean Cypher photo.

About a month later, said Dr. Cypher, he started to act as if he was in pain again and was reluctant to walk.

“This was a sign that some of the hardware needed to be removed. An x-ray sort of indicated that all was healing − although my antiquated machine leaves many caveats! It was a terrible ordeal for me to remove the pins and wires from his right ankle. Bets, who was volunteering that day, agreed with me that it looked as if I was completely dissecting his leg to find and cut out the hardware. But amazingly, he felt better and was completely weight-bearing on that leg again within a couple of days.”

Bruno today

Bruno (foreground) today. You can see the scars on his legs but he is growing into a healthy adolescent! Dr. Cypher puts reflective collars on the fawns so that they can be found in the dark if they don’t go back to the fawn pen at night by themselves. Tracie Hornung photo.

Dr. Cypher removed the pins from the left leg over the next couple of weeks and then Bruno began his final recovery. Now he spends his days outside with other recovering fawn patients and his evenings in the fawn pen. He stands three-legged, but will use his left leg when climbing hills or running (slowly).

“I think he’ll have a normal gait in a year or so,” said Dr. Cypher.

And with Bruno’s luck, you can just bet he will.