Newsletter Archive

Wild Bunch Newsletter - November 2005

Wild Bunch wishes to give you a brief update of our activities during the Month of October. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Virginia organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of native wildlife. 83 acres in the Northern Neck of Virginia near the Rappahannock River serve as our wildlife refuge. The officers and directors are Erika Yery, Pat Crusenberry, Diana O'Connor, Charlene DeVol and Bonnie Brown.

In the past month, the Wild Bunch Wildlife Refuge took in and cared for 1 pelican, 1 opossum, 3 squirrels, 1 Great Horned Owl, 2 Screech Owls, 2 Bald Eagles, 1 seagull and 1 wren and 1 raccoon.

Although, fewer animals are received this time of the year than during "baby season," calls from the public are still coming in regularly. Many calls involve deer hit by a car or road kill. It is so sad, but there is really nothing a rehabilitator can do in these cases. Fall is a prime time to drive with deer in mind. This is not only breeding season, but the start of hunting season; both factors result in having deer more on the move. Drivers should be especially watchful for wildlife at dawn, dusk, and in the first few hours after darkness falls since many wild animals are particularly active at these times. With the onset of the "rut" or mating season, bucks chase does or other bucks, paying no attention where they are going. Edges of roads that are bordered by natural habitat and fields are places to be especially watchful for wildlife.

For those with uncapped chimneys, who are planning to light a fire in the fireplace during the winter months, it is time to call a reputable chimneysweep to have the chimney inspected and cleaned. It is also important to have the chimney capped to prevent squirrels, raccoons and birds from making the chimney home during the winter months.

Many groundhogs are still awake and are seen along the roadsides and in some gardens. A local shelter recently killed one such unfortunate animal that had been trapped by the homeowner when it came out from under a deck. This brings up the question of why some shelters rent out traps to trap animals. People return the trap with the animal inside, and, in some cases, the animal is then killed. (Many cats also end up this way.) This is totally unnecessary since these shelters have lists of rehabilitators who will take everything from mammals, birds, raptors and amphibians.

Earlier in the year, Erika received four raccoon babies from a local shelter. After asking where they came from and what had happened to the mother, she was unsuccessful in obtaining answers until she did a lot of legwork and prodding. The mother raccoon and four babies were from an uncapped chimney. Had the homeowners called a rehabilitator, they would have been advised to let the family stay until the babies were 5-6 weeks old. At that time, the mother always moves the babies to a more natural den. Once the animals are gone, the chimney must be capped. Most people are willing to do that if it is explained to them. However, in the case of the four babies, the homeowners made the tragic mistake of calling the shelter where they were not advised to give the family a chance to move out on their own. Instead, the family was taken to the shelter where the perfectly healthy mother was killed -- just because she was a raccoon. At least the shelter did not go a step farther and kill the babies too. Not all shelters in the area operate in such an inhumane way, but some do. Rehabilitators need to be very strong, determined and have a great love for animals to manage to deal with the sometimes thoughtless, inhumane, and cruel incidents that can happen.

On a positive side, we are still getting many calls about mangy foxes – a problem we can resolve. At least five or more calls come in every week. Most callers are willing to help the poor fox get well. We always appreciate it when the people call us back and are overjoyed that the program worked and the fox started to grow hair and is becoming shyer.

Another happy item to report is that the newborn baby raccoons Erika received in early September are doing very well. These animals were brought to a local shelter one morning in early September by a couple from McLean. This couple would not provide the shelter with their name or other information so we don't know the fate of the mother. At any rate, the shelter did send the animals on to Erika. They were ice cold, still had the umbilical cord attached and were a day or two old, weighing 3 ounces each. It was touch and go for several weeks to keep these animals alive. For several weeks, the babies needed to be fed every 3 - 4 hours round the clock. Unfortunately, one baby died after a week, but the other three developed into very healthy and handsome raccoons, now weighing over three pounds. Raccoons born that late in the year will have to be kept until spring before being released in the wild.

Bonnie Brown and Erika Yery attended a seminar conducted by renowned Wildlife rehabilitator Gretl Learned at the Fern Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful two hour drive to Winchester with many trees in blazing colorful foliage. Topics covered at the seminar were wildlife laws you should know and apply, feeding and nutritional guidelines and protocols, pharmaceutical and homeopathic treatments, orphan care, and euthanasia. Gretl shared numerous useful tips that she has learned in her many years as a wildlife rehabilitator.

This month's True Story on the website is "The Delightful Dozen: Twelve Orphan Raccoons Grow Up." It is about the twelve baby raccoons that we received in early spring and successfully released in September. It describes the animals, where they came from, their personalities and the different steps in their development. It is written in a lighthearted way; we hope you will enjoy it.

As always, we are grateful for your much needed donations. As the number of animals we take in each year continues to grow, so do our expenses. The financial burden on Wild Bunch to provide all the supplies, food, medication and equipment that rehabilitation demands is very challenging. Financial donations can be mailed to Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation, 402 W. Alexandria Ave., Alexandria, VA 22302. In addition to financial support, we also have a great need for volunteers to help out at the refuge. If you or anyone you know is able to spend even a weekend day helping with chores, please call us at 804-313-2240. We rely deeply on your support and appreciate everything you do to help us out