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Wildlife Success Stories

Our greatest successes are when we are able to bring a wild animal back to health with all of the survival skills it needs, and release it with others of its kind back into its natural habitat. Sometimes, however, the best we can offer an animal is a painless end to life. This is a more difficult part of doing wildlife work, but it is still the responsible and humane thing to do.

On this page you can read some wildlife rehabilitation success stories.

White-tailed deer

Fawns need care from an authorized wildlife rehabilitator when they have been orphaned or injured. However, sometimes fawns are "rescued" when they better off left alone. Since fawns have no scent to attract predators, mother deer leave their babies tucked in a safe place while they go and graze. This ensures that the scent of the mother does not attract predators near the vulnerable baby. If you see a fawn on its own, but it looks healthy, you should stay away. The mother will return to feed it and care for it. Only rescue a fawn if you know that the mother has been killed, the fawn does not look healthy or you know the fawn has stayed in the same place for a day. The mother will not return if she knows people are nearby watching the fawn. Leave the area, and if you are concerned check back after several hours.

Clarice

Clarice
This little fawn was a few weeks old when she was found by a group of teenagers having a party. She was part of the entertainment and was brought in to a rehabilitation centre the next morning. It is possible that she was not orphaned in which case she would have been best returned to the care of her mother.

She was named Clarice after Rudolph's girlfriend in the Christmas special, and nicknamed Bee. Fawns are sensitive animals and often die when made captive after a traumatic experience, but fortunately Clarice had a strong will to live. She was bottle fed lots of goat milk formula and given some vaccinations to give her a maximum chance of survival.

Another danger in rehabilitating fawns, is their tendency to bond with humans. This is not good for survival in the wild. Therefore, contact with fawns should be minimal and limited to only one or two caregivers so that they don't generalize their affection to all humans.

Clarice was soon placed with several other fawns so that she could grow up with others of her kind and they could learn from each other. In the fall, they were transferred to a more remote pasture to further isolate them from human contact. There, Clarice and her friends grew big and strong. She was released with her herd in the spring when food was abundant. She is finally living her life in the wild as she should!

Spider

Spider
Spider was very young, a few days old at most, when she was found by some concerned people. They kept checking on her to see if her mother returned, but by the next morning they knew she needed help and brought her in for rehabilitation.

She was named Spider because she was so young that her tiny long legs were crooked and stuck out at awkward angles when she stood. At first we were concerned that there maybe a problem, but it turned out that she was healthy but her legs had not yet straightened after emerging from the womb. She was so tiny, she was first kept her in a rubbermaid storage bin.

Despite all disadvantages, Spider thrived. She had good instincts to be wary of humans and she was always strong and determined. She grew well on goat's milk formula and then eagerly made the switch to eating leaves off trees, corn on the cob, apples and some grain.

Spider spent almost her entire time with a couple of other orphaned fawns so was able to bond with them. They were transferred together to an excellent over-wintering site and released in the spring.

Raccoons

Although young raccoons are curious and have some teeth, they are normally dependant for a long time, nursing from their mother for up to 4 months. People sometimes make the mistake of giving baby raccoons foods that their digestive system isn't prepared to accept.

Many young raccoons are orphaned in the spring when the mother raccoons venture out into human spaces in search of food. People then trap the mother and transport her far away, unknowingly making her babies orphans. The babies then do not have any chance of survival without help from an experience wildlife rehabilitator.

There has not been a case of raccoon rabies in Ontario since a single case was reported in 2006. However, raccoons can have distemper and panleukopenia which can be passed to domestic cats and dogs. Raccoon poop often contains a roundworm that causes brain damage to other animals including humans. Although it may be tempting to play with raccoon babies, people should leave it to wildlife rehabilitation specialists who will give the raccoons worming medication as well as appropriate vaccinations.

Charming

Charming
Dear Charming was a single orphaned raccoon found in an area near a busy road. He got his name because of his sweet, gentle and shy nature. He did very well being raised with other raccoons and could suck back big bottles of puppy formula.

Charming got along great with all other raccoons. He loved playing with water and would be the first one in the kiddy pool whenever we emptied and refilled it. Once weaned, he delighted in using his hands to catch fish and open peanut shells. He'd gobble earthworms and corn on the cob as special treats to supplement his puppy chow diet. In the fall, he was transferred with his buddies to a soft release site. There he could take his time getting to know the land while having a safe place to return for meals until he felt ready to stay in the wild.

Izzy

Izzy
A very tiny but determined raccoon was brought for rehabilitation one June. She had been spotted hanging around a construction site a few days after her mother had been trapped and taken away. A caring family captured her and transferred her to a rehabilitation centre.

Although much smaller than all the other raccoons at the centre, Izzy was able to hold her own. She drank her formula well and was an excellent climber, really enjoying climbing to the top of trees when let out of her enclosure for some exercise. She was grouped with 2 other females and by the fall she had finally caught up with them in size. She spent several months free to come and go at her soft release site with her buddies, becoming more independent and adept at surviving in the wild.

Squirrels

As baby squirrels grow, they can sometimes fall out of the nest. In most cases, the mother will retrieve her young, but sometimes there are too many nearby threats like people, cats or dogs. Desperate baby squirrels will sometimes run right up to people hoping for help. If there is no mother nearby, then the squirrel needs to be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator.

In other cases, tiny baby squirrels are orphaned during house renovations where a mother squirrel has nested in an attic or garage. The abandoned babies may still be hairless with eyes closed. It takes experience to raise baby squirrels using the correct formula and careful techniques to avoid having the nursing babies aspirate liquid into their lungs. Squirrels being rehabilitated need to be raised with other squirrels and given opportunities to learn fear of humans and all the skills they need to forage for food and nest in the wild. Without these skills, a released squirrel will become an easy target for cats and dogs.