Tag Archives: wildlife

Wildlife and Wildfire

By Shannon Perry

Soon after our animals returned from evacuation, we found ourselves hosting the raptors from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center due to a brush fire. First responders did an amazing job of containing that fire to 19 acres and the birds returned to the center. It got me thinking about wildfire again.

As the effects of climate change increase, one that impacts our world is the growing length of the wildfire season. We may cringe at the idea of animals dying in fires, yet there is evidence that there are some animals that benefit from fire. Others are disadvantaged and their populations decline. In a study, fishers, western bluebirds, and cavity nesters increased in population, while mountain chickadees declined, as did spotted owls. Cavity nesters such as Lewis’ woodpeckers benefitted due to standing snags. However, salvage logging removes this habitat. 

If you’d like more information, please read the selected links.

http://wildlife.org/wildfire-toward-understanding-its-effects-on-wildlife-from-the-wildlife-professional/

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140721-animals-wildlife-wildfires-nation-forests-science/

Baby Animal Season Continues

By Shannon Perry

We have had quite a variety of baby animals coming into the clinic. Sometimes we are able to send them back from where they came, as in the case of a baby robin from an orchard. It was uninjured so we fed it and sent it back with the kind young man who found it to return in the vicinity where it was found.

Other babies have been injured or caught by a cat or dog and we do our best to nurture them along. Please consider keeping your kitty indoors. Here are some tips to help you both assess the need for help, and to keep wildlife safe from cats.

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/injured_orphaned_wildlife.html

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/magazines/2011/01-02/peaceable_backyard_kingdom_protect_cats_wildlife_01032011.html

Photo credits: Humane Society

Safe From Fire

By Shannon Perry

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a harrowing 24 hours, but the animals are all safely back home. The fire was coming up the ravine below the clinic, not really close but too close for comfort. Fortunately the firefighters set up on a long gravel drive there, and that gave comfort.

You can’t really wait until the last minute to evacuate 40+ birds. Many thanks to Elijah Schneider and Jill Barker (shown) and Beagle Barker (not shown) for bringing carriers, a transport van, and packing up patients

The animals are settled back  into their various cages and much happier for it.

Fire in Rowena

By Shannon Perry

You may have heard that a fire started north of I84 by the Memaloose rest area Friday evening (July6). It jumped the freeway and came up the hill toward Rowena. The clinic was on level two evacuation threat, which means be packed and ready. So Jean evacuated many of the animals to be on the safe side. We could have carried on just fine without this added excitement and stress, but all the animals and Jean are safe.

The last word I heard was that the clinic is still in level one evacuation with level two nearby. I will keep you posted as to progress getting the animals back to the clinic.

Best wishes to neighbors in the area that you are safe and your homes unthreatened.

Wildlife driven into urban areas after Gorge wildfire

By Tracie Hornung

As Columbia River Gorge residents are all too aware, a 48,000 acre wildfire consumed vast amounts of wildlife habitat this fall. Because of the fire, wildlife has been driven down from the once-forested hills into urban areas such as Hood River.

Douglas squirrel

Douglas squirrel.
Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW.

A Rowena Wildlife Clinic volunteer has noted that some human residents are complaining of the increase in animals, such as the Douglas squirrel, moving into urban and suburban neighborhoods.

However, with their homes destroyed, wildlife have no choice but to move on and find new habitat. RWC personnel ask city residents to have some patience for the situation and allow the animals to do what they must to survive the winter — especially since it’s getting too late in the season for them to find yet another place to call home.

Of course, if humans don’t want wildlife to get too comfortable living in an urban setting for the long term, they should not feed them. But on the other hand, to help the animals in their new, unfamiliar habitat the kind thing is to keep pets from attacking them whenever possible. That means keeping pets inside this winter as much as possible or to make sure they are supervised when outside.

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From the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife:

Douglas squirrel

Tamiasciurus douglasii

The Douglas squirrel is one of the smaller tree squirrels in Oregon. The color and markings of this squirrel differ individually, geographically and seasonally, appearing a dusky olive to brownish gray with an indistinct band of reddish brown with a blackish band along the flanks.

In Oregon, it occurs in coniferous forests from the Pacific coast to as far east as western Baker County.

Douglas squirrels are active during the daylight hours year-round, although they may remain in their nests or tree dens for a day or two during inclement weather.

How to help RWC: Oregon wildlife news

How you can help Rowena Wildlife Clinic

This is the clinic’s busiest time of year. The seasonal combination of newborn wildlife and increased human beings outside means that more animals are injured and found.

bald eagle

Young recovering bald eagle at Rowena Wildlife Clinic. Photo by Tracie Hornung

How can you help? First, if you find an animal in need please call the clinic first. And, after calling, if there is any way possible you can deliver the animal to the clinic that will help the clinic immensely. Volunteers, who all have other jobs and commitments, are sometimes hard pressed to make the time to retrieve the animal. The volunteer you speak to on the phone will be happy to explain how you can safely pick up and deliver the animal. See this link on our website to learn more.

And, of course, as a nonprofit organization, the clinic can always use donations. If you would like to contribute to help save injured wildlife, please visit our Donate page. If you choose to donate online, you don’t need a Paypal account to do so.

Harsh winter took heavy toll on wildlife in Oregon, western U.S.

Wildlife suffered higher than normal losses this winter in severe weather across the western United States, where the toll included the deaths of all known fawns in one Wyoming deer herd and dozens of endangered bighorn sheep in California.

Wildlife managers in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington also reported higher losses of animals in the wake of one of the coldest and snowiest winters in decades. Parts of the Rockies saw snowfall as late as mid-June.

See the rest of the story in the Oregonian.

Money for wildlife trapping reinstated in Oregon state budget committee

Despite looking for ways to cut  costs, Oregon’s legislative budget writers support spending nearly $1 million over the next two years to pay the state’s share of a program that helps fund wildlife trappers in dozens of counties across the state.

See the rest of the story in the Oregonian.

Disturbing graphic shows number of government wildlife kills in U.S.

Big game animals are killed in Oregon more than any state. See the graphic in the Oregonian.

Feeding winter songbirds? Here are some tips

by Tracie Hornung

At first blush, feeding songbirds in winter sounds like nothing but a positive activity.

Darkened Junco. Courtesy USFWS. Dave Menke photo.

But I’ve heard the concern that if you start feeding songbirds in winter on a regular basis, you’re dooming them if you suddenly leave on vacation for a few weeks – after they’ve been “spoiled” by their human-supplied meals.

Another worry is that regular feeding of songbirds in winter may ultimately weaken them. Two studies in Europe and the U.K. have found that songbirds fed all winter produce fewer eggs, have fewer chicks fledge – and those that do have lower survival rates. This article in Cool Green Science explores some possible reasons. But because these findings were the result of only two studies, more research obviously needs to be done. 

Regarding leaving your birds for a frolic in the tropics, you can go guilt-free if you can coax a neighbor or friend to feed while you’re gone. Or if that’s not possible, gradually taper off the amount of food you’re putting out before you go. And according to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, birds have adapted to changes in food sources and usually quickly revert to foraging in the wild.

snow

Tracie Hornung photo

If you want to know more about feeding birds in winter view Cornell’s “Bird Notes” publication on Winter Bird Feeding.

 

 

 

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.

Busy beavers help themselves and their ecosystems

By Tracie Hornung

Beaver

American Beaver (Castor canadensis), Oregon’s official state animal. Courtesy ODFW

If you’ve ever seen a beaver in the wild, you’re one of the lucky ones.

These mammals, North America’s largest rodent, are most active in the evening or at night. Beavers may weigh up to 65 pounds and average about four feet long. Their habitat consists of ponds, marshes and streams, and their bodies have evolved to fit perfectly within that environment. Thanks to webbed hind feet, a broad paddle-like tail, and membranes that cover the eyes when the animal is underwater, beavers are supreme swimmers. (But that evolutionary design makes them rather clumsy on land.) They can remain underwater for at least 15 minutes by slowing their heart rate. And their large teeth — their upper incisors can grow up to an inch long — contribute greatly to their well-known logging abilities.

Beaver tree

Results of beaver activity.
Tracie Hornung photo

But it is their thick luxurious fur, ranging from reddish brown to black, that defined their destiny after European settlers invaded North America. In fact, Oregon’s early economy was built on beaver pelts. During the 1800s, when European and U.S. East Coast demand for beaver hats and coats was at its peak, fur trappers nearly eliminated the species through unregulated trapping.

With proper management, however, beavers have become re-established and are now common throughout their range. But habitat destruction has become their most recent threat, and the improvement of wetlands and riparian areas is necessary for beavers, as well as a myriad of other species — which are helped by beavers’ aquatic activities.

Beavers build dams to create deep water that protects them from predators, helps them access their food supply and provides underwater entrances to their dens. And the ponds that beavers create expand wetlands and enhance habitat for many other fish and wildlife species, such as juvenile coho salmon.

Beaver Dam

Beaver dam
Courtesy USFWS

It’s no wonder the phrase “busy as a beaver” exists because beavers are industrious and skilled loggers and carpenters. They can fell a tree up to five-and-a-half feet in diameter. They cut down trees to construct their dens, dams, and for food. They enjoy eating the leaves, inner bark, and twigs of aspen (a favorite food), alder, birch, cottonwood, willow and other deciduous trees.

The dens they build (also known as lodges) are waterproofed with mud, and serve as a place to rest, stay warm, give birth and raise young — an average of four kits per litter. Beavers live in colonies that may contain up to 12 individuals. The colony is usually made up of the adult breeding pair and their offspring. Most kits remain with the adults until they are almost two years old. The kits then go off on their own in search of mates and suitable spots to begin colonies, which may be several miles away.

If you’re interested in learning how to help beavers and create sustainable habitat for them, read “Living with Wildlife: American Beaver” at the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife web site: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/docs/beaver.pdf


Sadly, beavers’ logging and dam-building that sometimes results in flooding or in damaging property inspire humans to remove them. In Oregon, landowners are allowed to trap beavers. However, the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife states on its web site, “Removing beavers is often a short-term solution as other beavers will move into the area if suitable habitat is present.”

To learn about recent research at Boston University related to this issue, see “Why Monogamous Beavers Would Be Good News.”

 

Bobcat: a sight to behold!

By Tracie Hornung

Bobcat

Bobcat
Lynx rufus
Photo by Gary Kramer
Courtesy USFWS

Just as I rounded a bend riding my bike to the wildlife clinic a few years ago, a bobcat dashed across the road. It was gone in what seemed like a nanosecond, but the image of that small but powerful animal has stayed with me.

In my opinion, all cats—wild or domestic—are gorgeous, and the bobcat is no exception.

It’s the smallest wild cat in Oregon—about twice the size of a housecat—but with longer legs, a shorter tail and a more muscular body.

Bobcats are found throughout Oregon, and according to the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, bobcats in western Oregon possess more distinct markings than those in the east side of the state. Their lifespan is 12-13 years.

Bobcat territories are established with scent markings, and territory sizes are generally 25-30 square miles for males and about five square miles for females.

Although In the early to mid 1900s, bobcat populations in many Midwestern and Eastern states were decimated because of the value of the cats’ fur, their populations have rebounded with the advent of laws in the 1970s that protected wild cats. Today, populations are stable in many northern states and are reviving in many others.

However, as Defenders of Wildlife states, they are still hunted and trapped for their fur throughout most of their range, and habitat destruction and the ever-expanding human population limit their ranges.

Let’s hope that our grandchildren will have the same opportunity I did of seeing these beautiful cats in the wild.