WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.

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Jumping To The Rescue

By Shirley J. Casey and Allan M. Casey, III

This article was previously published in ESA Today, Newsmagazine of the Endangered Species Coalition, Fall 2000, pgs 1 & 4. Used with permission from the Endangered Species Coalition.

It is becoming all too common for wild animals to be injured or killed as a result of direct or indirect human actions. Wild animals are hit by cars, electrocuted by power lines, poisoned by pesticides, covered by petroleum in oil spills, and mangled by domestic pets.  Members of the public increasingly seek help for injured wild creatures. Helping injured wildlife requires special knowledge, skill, capture, handling, veterinary care, caging, and diets.

Wildlife rehabilitators, once perceived by wildlife agencies and biologists as "bunny huggers", are becoming recognized for having specialized skill, expertise, and credibility. Rehabilitators help prevent or reduce wildlife problems and provide a qualified facility for the public and agencies to take injured or orphaned wildlife. Rehabilitators, while helping individual animals regain health so they can be released back to their native habitat, may also help wild populations especially in the case of species at risk. Some people have become familiar with the work of wildlife


An injured Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse treated by WildAgain.

rehabilitators who have provided aid to "higher profile" species such as bald eagles, peregrine falcons, marine mammals, and sea turtles. However, wildlife rehabilitators also have provided assistance in other ways and with less well-known species.

WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. is a group of permitted wildlife rehabilitators in Colorado who rehabilitate small mammals, and have extensive experience working with wildlife trauma.  WildAgain has conducted national research on health conditions and injuries on wildlife admitted to rehabilitation. In addition, with the partnership of a holistic veterinarian, they design and present training programs around North America on first aid and trauma care for wildlife. The protocols and treatment often reduce the animal's time in captivity, are easy to administer, and appear successful in thousands of cases. 

For example, when the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse ( Zapus Hudsonius Preblei), a small hibernator which only lives on the front range of Colorado and Wyoming, was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1998, WildAgain became extremely interested in this little mouse and wanted to get involved in helping to save the species. After meeting with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) Preble's researchers about trap injuries, WildAgain proposed a training program for the CDOW's researchers on first aid methods. In 1998, it was offered to all CDOW researchers. Small first aid kits were also made available. The CDOW began using the protocols and kits in the field that year.  In 1999, an overview of the same first aid training and some basic tips on treating Preble's trap injuries was presented at a USFWS general program for over 50 field researchers. Later, more in-depth programs and techniques were presented to groups of field researchers, including biologists, consultants, and government staff.

The field researchers responded positively to being able to easily and quickly treat trap injuries on site. A number of the field researchers reported that injured Preble's often were able to be released within a short time using the new protocols. The injuries and conditions treated included lacerations, crushed tails, ripped claws, shock, and hypothermia.

In one case, a field biologist found that a trap had closed on the back leg of a juvenile Preble's: two toes were curled and the animal was unable to put weight on the leg. The field biologist, who had treated more minor injuries with the field first aid kit, wanted additional help. She took the injured Preble's to the USFWS office where WildAgain met with the field biologist to determine if the injury was superficial or in need of veterinary care. Under the watchful eyes of the USFWS staff, a first aid medicine was administered. Several minutes after the medicine, the Preble's was gently putting weight on the leg and started eating. 

The decision was made to keep her in captivity overnight and reassess her the next morning. If she seemed to have recovered, she would be released; if not, a disposition decision would be discussed.  In less that 24 hours after she was found, the animal put full weight on her leg, seemed to have full mobility, and was very active. She was taken to the exact spot where she had been trapped and released. She quickly ran away, with no evident impairment.  Clearly wildlife rehabilitators have made a positive contribution to help save and protect threatened and endangered species, sometimes one mouse at a time.

For further information on the wildlife rehabilitation as well as the mentioned programs, techniques, and specialized fied first-aid kits, contact WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc., PO Box 685, Evergreen, CO  80437, USA; phone 303-670-3309; fax 303-670-8938; or email pmjm@ewildagain.org.

About the Authors

Shirley and Allan Casey are licensed wildlife rehabilitators specializing in small mammals and co-founders of WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation. They conduct research on wildlife topics, present at training workshops and conferences around North America, and publish widely. Allan is past-president of The Colorado Wildlife Alliance. Shirley was appointed by the USFWS to the Team developing the Preble's Recovery Plan and provides environmental perspectives.


Copyright 2002. WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. All Rights Reserved unless otherwise stated.