Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Sees More Animals


This opossum is an orphan. In the wild, she would likely die from starvation
or dehydration. “She is slightly dehydrated.” But with the help of wildlife rehabilitators
she has a second chance. This is just one of the many animals at Sarvey
Wildlife Care Center in Arlington, Washington. An average of 1,500 wild animals arrive here
every year. “We’ve seen just about every native Washington
animal here at some point in time.” Nearly 80 percent are infants– most of them
orphans. Most of the adult animals admitted to Sarvey
are injured or sick. This year they say a 25 percent increase in
their number of patients. They say drought conditions this summer may
be the cause. A lack of food and water meant more malnourished and dehydrated animals. “Nature has a way of timing things usually, And when that gets out of whack then it causes a problem.” But they say expanding urban areas also play
a role. “We have encroached a lot on the wild spaces,
and you know these animals are still here so you know we need to figure out how to coexist
with them.” For many animals navigating urban areas can
be dangerous. “I’m going to bring her right in.” This Cooper’s Hawk was brought in after
it flew into a pole. They perform a series of tests to figure out
if the bird is suffering from head trauma or broken bones. “Can you get a right and a left too? Or
just a right?” “Yeah.” “It can take us days to do diagnostics because
we have to stabilize the animal first.” From there they determine the best course
of treatment. “If we’re going to be good to the animals
we have to understand their behavior and not do things that are going to further harm them.” The first big test comes is moving to an outside
habitat. Here the animals become reaquainted with what
they’ll see in the wild. “Whatever it is that they do in the wild
we try to see if they can do that in captivity.” They’ll continue to monitor each animal’s
progress. “You gotta know when they are ready to go.
Why spend all that time working on them just to have them die because they weren’t ready.” Sarvey releases about 70 percent of the animals
that go through the rehab process. “To me that is what it is all about, is
letting it go. Letting it reproduce, do its own thing where it is supposed to do it–
not in captivity.” Once released, it’s up to each animal to
make the most of its second chance.

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