Friday, September 18, 2020

Don't be scared - it's just me your neighbor!


Don’t be scared – it’s just your native wild animal neighbor!

Many native neighbors, their nocturnal sounds cause irrational fear in many humans. By reading this article I will attempt to accomplish what Marie Curie said was true. Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Unfortunately, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said we are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribes. And superstition is the religion incongruous with intelligence as John Tyndall said.

So, let us start a journey of intelligence and understanding. Every animal in the web of life is vital. Without every species the habitat is not a fully function ecosystem.  What are your views about skunks, bats, coyotes, and great horned owls? These species for some reason seem to be vilified the most. One fiction author even had her heroine make the statement “man gave the wolf all the dark bits of himself and then vilified the wolf”. Perhaps that statement will explain the polarization and why there is such resistance of many humans to accept all species, particularly predatory species as valuable.

Skunks are nomadic. I will say that once more – they are nomadic. They stay on the move. They do not see well, nor hear well. They have no powerful defenses like big claws or teeth. They do not have aggressive attitudes. In reality, they are quite docile. Their small size makes them perfect to be considered food by several predators. The only means to defend is a grape sized scent gland which, once depleted (roughly three sprays) they are helpless. Did you know they consume many harmful insects including underground wasp nests as well as rodents? They are not digging up your over watered lawn, they are consuming the plethora of insects residing in your lawn who are there to consume your lawn.    

Bats are not blind nor are they a mouse with wings. Their wing actually more resembles the hand. These animals do not fly into your hair. It is more likely they were trying to consume the small flying insects hovering just above your head. They can navigate around a single strand of thread in total darkness using their echolocation abilities. They cannot take flight from the ground. They do not carry rabies. Once contracted from the stray cat who had it, they too will perish from it. Roughly 0.5% or 1 in 1,000 bats have the virus.  More people are killed from dog attacks, bee stings, power mowers or lightning than from rabid bats. Did you know a colony of 1,000 bats will consume 22 pounds of insects each night? There are 12 species of bats most are threatened or endangered. Some migrate, some remain hibernate the winter. One winter disturbance can cause up to two weeks early awakening.   

The first Americans respected the hardiness, adaptability and intelligence of the Coyote. Without their tenacity and opportunistic feeding tendencies the habitat would be overpopulated by assorted prey species consuming far too much vegetation which would lead to starvation and habitat depletion and erosion.

Did you know there are nine species of owl who reside in our region? They are not harbingers of death. Chosen prey depends upon the bird – from moths to rabbits. Not all fly silently but there is a cost for the silence. In order to hear the prey instead of themselves the feathers sacrifice their weather resistance. Contrary to popular belief the head cannot rotate all the way around, only 270 degrees. The low frequency vocalizations travel long distances.   

When a person makes a connection with nature, a bond is formed. Being immersed in nature makes a person realize how interconnected we all are. Being just one of many in the hectic buzz of urban settings it is easy to be self-absorbed and ignorant of the how dependent each species is upon another. Out of sight and mind are the endless threats to this planet which effect the survival of us all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

In the name of LOVE.....

STOP – in the name of love and engage your brain!

We are aware you (the private citizens) care. We, being the professional licensed and trained wildlife rehabilitators. We are aware you enjoy the wild animals around you as much as we do. We love it when you show your support through donating time, talent or treasure. The truth is we could not do what we voluntarily do unless you supported our efforts. We also are moved deeply when you acknowledge the hard work we accomplish. For those who want to get involved with hands on animal care, please do contact today and begin the training process. For us to keep Idaho WILD, we need your help.

In the last few weeks, your three North Idaho licensed wildlife rehabilitators (American Heritage Wildlife Foundation, Mystic Farm, and Palouse Wildlife Rescue & Rehab) have admitted cases which we have worked tirelessly to save and lost. We have given pain medications, proper nutritional support, performed medical procedures, shouted to the great creator to give us the wisdom to know how to help, sought additional professional counsel, lost sleep and grieved terribly over each precious soul of our wild native neighbors.

The common thread between each of these cases: the rescuer thought they knew best. They thought they could trust the information they read on the internet. They thought it was credible information. They thought the same foods they ate were acceptable for this different species. They thought they were helping. The end result was the rescuers admitted defeat and the animal suffered needlessly and suffered a painful death. 
Imagine, you are walking along and then a person stops, picks you up, takes you to their house, forces food down your throat which makes you feel sick and never lets you leave. Each day this person repeats this cycle of holding you down, forcing you to consume foods which make you feel worse and worse and seems oblivious to your suffering. This is exactly what happens when a good intentioned private citizen does when they keep a wild animal and try to raise it.
There is no maliciousness intended, it is not a brutal or merciless act being performed. It is simply ignorance because the captor does not know what the signs of pain and suffering are, there is no realization they are killing you.

The founder of Mystic Farm Wildlife Rescue who cares for the White Tailed Deer fawns had a patient recently accepted by well intended private citizens who kept the orphaned fawn and provided the wrong nutritional requirements. They contacted this professional organization after problems started to present. This animal was not able to have the trauma reversed. It suffered and died needlessly.

The founder of American Heritage Wildlife Foundation who has the permits and training and capacity to provide care for nearly 270 of Idaho’s 280+/_  species has had five cases in less than two weeks of private citizens finding wild animals and then attempting to rehabilitate them on their own.

One pair of American Robins had been in care with their captor for almost two weeks. Both were malnourished. The feathers were weak and breaking off. The skin was pale and bones were very weak. They could not fly despite being of an appropriate age. They were caked with feces. Sores were present on their legs because they were too weak to stand. One was suffering from pneumonia. Both had external parasites because of the filthy conditions they were kept in. Both were suspected to have internal parasites.

A call was received about one young Raccoon after the person saw the adult hit on the highway and stopped to discover a youngster curled up beside its dead mother. This person decided it would make a wonderful pet and kept the animal.  After more than one week of ‘care’ this good Samaritan consulted AHWF for advice. Our volunteers advised this person the proper thing to do is bring in for rehabilitation and did not pass along information on what to feed, how much to feed, what type of setting the animal should be in, what medications are necessary, what nutritional supplements are needed etc. This wild animal has not been admitted for rehabilitative care and we have not heard from the caller again.

One Robin hatchling was admitted after being ‘cared for by a neighbor’ for three days. The bird was given to this person because they told the neighborhood they ‘just raised a batch of Robins’ who fell from the nest. What was not told to the neighborhood was these birds suffered from metabolic bone disease and upon flying away were unable to recognize natural foods and starved to death. The little patient upon admission was only days old and weight was 9.6 grams in weight (less than a quarter). It was suffering from double pneumonia.

One Female Striped Skunk was found dead on the highway. One driver stopped and discovered one youngster at her side. They immediately called and made arrangements to get the animal admitted for care. Sadly too many days had passed between the time the mother was killed and being found, she died despite providing supportive care. Another sibling however was picked up by a would be rescuer, but instead of contacting the professionals these folks decided they would feed this wild animal the food choices they felt were best. When they realized the error of their ways, they contacted our volunteers and this patient was admitted. He died in agonizing pain because of the incorrect foods he was forced to eat. Our newest volunteer’s very first wild animal experience was this little male. This new volunteer had to daily try and provide comfort and ease the suffering. They interacted with this animal in order to render attempts at life saving measures. In the end not only did the wild animal die but this experience will forever be etched on that volunteer’s heart.  

One young American Crow was admitted. We estimated this bird to about 6 weeks of age. Upon examination we could surmise this short life was filled with nothing but discomfort and pain. Because the lead wild animal care specialist has more than 30 years of professional experience with wild animals the story line unfolds like this: Hatch from egg. Remain in nest with siblings. Start exploring using wings and legs but loose balance. Fall to ground. Picked up by human #1. Taken home and forced to eat the wrong foods. These items do not offer enough nutritional support for healthy bones, skin, feathers, or muscles. The human realizes that they messed up because the bird cannot stand and the legs are permanently fused at the joint due to perpetual laying down. The feet are twisted to the side because of old trauma or incorrect bone development. Callouses form on the anatomical areas where there should never contact with the ground due to the deformities of the body. The anatomical body part which should never be in contact with the ground was bruised and sore because of this as well. Feathers are in poor condition because of the nutritional deficiencies and no social interaction to learn the behaviors necessary to ensure feather health.  There were external parasites crawling on this bird. A weakened body is prone to have external parasites which leach out the life slowly one bite at a time. So the human, instead of admitting their error and contacting an animal hospital to end the suffering simply takes the bird into the woods and puts it on the ground to fend for itself and be free.  
Another human finds this bird days later and realizes it is in need of care or it will starve to death painfully. They take it home and try to render aid by again giving foods which are also not nutritionally sound or appropriate. After a few days, human #2 realizes the bird needs more than a few so called free meals and takes it to a veterinary clinic who has doctors who do not know about birds so they contact AHWF. Our trained volunteers coordinate a transfer and then examine the bird only to realize this bird will never have a chance at being wild and it has only ever known suffering.  Human #1 created a huge emotional wake because of their ego and ignorance. Human #1 is responsible for causing suffering to that young bird who most likely could have simply been renested and the parents would have continued care. Human #1 is responsible for causing human #2 loss of time and expense trying to fix the problem. Human #1 is responsible for the loss of revenue the veterinary hospital could have earned by treating a dog or cat instead of spending time with an animal they were not able to treat. Human #1 is responsible for a community supported nonprofit expend financial resources to retrieve the bird. Human #1 is responsible for having several trained volunteers become emotionally attached to this wild native animal in distress. Human #1 is responsible for the sorrow caused to the lead wildlife care specialist when the only humane decision was euthanasia.    

The founder of Palouse Wildlife Rescue and Rehab receives countless calls daily about assorted wild animals. One such call is detailed below.
A caller asked if the founder would be willing to accept a tree squirrel with a broken spine. The caller had the animal for two days. Because the emergency veterinary clinic would not release the animal back into her custody after the examination, she did not bring it in for any type of care. This citizen wanted the animal to live despite being paralyzed. After being told to please bring the animal in so the suffering would end, the caller hung up.  

Do not misunderstand this proclamation. We are grateful for the kind humans who want to help. We are cut from the same cloth. Please do understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE to raise a wild animal fully, this means physically, mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally simply by reading one perhaps less than credible article on the internet or believing old wives tales. Just because you tossed the bird in the air or took the mammal out into the woods and let loose your grip does not constitute a ‘successful release’.

We love you for your kindness and wanting to help. We want you to help but please do not stop caring once you put your hands on the animal. There is no shame in admitting you don’t know what to do. There is no shame admitting you need help. There is great reward when you become part of the team who saved a wild animal who was able to be released into the wild territory of North Idaho. 

Wildlife Rehabbers are committed to this calling. It is not a career. It is not a hobby. They are deeply empathetic to the wild animals and when those animals suffer the toll is immense. Wildlife rehabilitators accept the financial strain and the physical demands. They willingly agree to the mental challenges. They put on a brave face for the general public. They smile as complete strangers tell of stories of family members who improperly raised wild animals and then let them be free, all the while knowing that animal suffered needlessly. They patiently listen to the stories from complete strangers of assorted horrific animal encounters such as my cat once got a bird and it …. or my dog attacked a fawn and it …. because they know that this complete stranger is not wanting to offend. This complete stranger is simply trying to find that common ground and demonstrate their compassion for wild animals by telling perhaps their only experience with our wild native neighbors. There is a very very very heavy emotional price to pay for those who accept the responsibility of properly raising a wild animal so it may return to its wild habitat. This price is paid willingly, but when the patients are admitted because of mistakes and errors made from ego and ignorance, their sorrow is tempered with rage.

The roughly 5,000 professional wildlife rehabilitators across the nation all have two things in common. We all love the wild animals more than ourselves and we are unfathomably shaken to our cores when we see the contradiction of humane human who cared enough to stop their hectic lives for one second and rescue a wild animal but then not care enough to spend a few minutes researching the correct next step.  If you truly love where you live and care about the wild animals who are our native neighbors, get involved with these licensed facilities. We need your support.
Please stop in the name of love, before you break all of our hearts.


Monday, June 1, 2020

What's more important?

Nothing is more important than empathy for another being’s suffering. Nothing. Not career, not wealth, not intelligence, certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity. – Audrey Hepburn

There was a  USFWS survey completed almost 40 years ago asking over 3,000 citizens ‘if your monthly electric bill were to increase would you be in favor if it would save an endangered species? A few specific animals listed were: Bald Eagle (89% approved), Mountain Lion (73%), Silverspotted Butterfly (64%), Furbish Lousewort (48%) and Kauai Wolf Spider (34%). The view of these supporters that all life not just humans have value is called biocentrism. These folks approached living with a life centered perspective.

I am curious if I were to look at the IUCN and ESA listing of species, how many of these species have been declared extinct.  The citizens who were most in favor of protecting would now be around 60 to 70 years old. Those least likely to support endangered species (at that time were those aged over 56 years old). The people who felt the environment is a tool to be used to benefit only humans are known to hold an anthropocentric view.  Additionally, those with less education were not in favor. My question is how many of those people felt that all animals are sentient beings (that they feel pain and pleasure)?

The general public has limited knowledge of the interconnectedness of life. We are taught to pursue careers and work hard to obtain possessions. We are told, the animal kingdom has no tangible value. But take a moment to look at the root of the word animal. Anima is Latin meaning breath or soul. It is a life force to be respected. Albert Einstein, the intelligent analytical minded scientist, admitted that if you look into nature you will understand everything better. John Muir stated when you tug at one thing in nature you will find it is connected to the rest of the world. The wilderness will offer clues to the preservation of the world said Henry David Thoreau. The Dalai Lama proclaims that the planet does not need more successful people; it needs peacemakers, healers, restorers and lovers of all kinds. America’s founding father Thomas Jefferson recognized that if one link in nature’s chain is lost, it may continue until the whole of things will vanish. To quote from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring “On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn of scores of bird voices there was not sound; only silence over the fields and woods and marsh”. Chief Seattle in a letter to the President Pierce in 1855 asked the question: Where have all the Buffalo gone? This wise Native American tribal leader announced that his people recognized every part of the earth is sacred. The warmth of the land and sky cannot be owned. The earth is not an enemy to be conquered - it is our mother. The (white mans) cities offer no quiet place to hear or clean precious air to share its spirit with all life. The white man must value nature and treat the land as his brother. What befalls the earth will soon happen to all man. All things connect – what man does to the web of life he does to himself. It seems to me that modern humans have gone from animus to animosity all because we ‘got civilized’. I ask you now, what’s more important? 

During the aforementioned survey from the 1980’s, no more than 33% of the entire national survey correctly answered any of the basic true false questions such as ‘pesticides were a major factor for the decline of Brown Pelicans’. The section of wildlife management knowledge and concern resulted in only 14% of the citizens being educated on the issue of the use of steel shot versus lead shot by waterfowl hunters. 94% felt poisoning was unacceptable method of predator control although was a least expensive method. Only 26% approved hunting of large carnivores.  18% were approving of trophy hunting but more than 80% approve of hunting as a means for food. 87% of people felt that illegal killing of wildlife should result in stiff fines and prison sentences for repeat offenders.  71% disagreed with the statement “Americans should have automobile access to scenic public areas even if the wild animals are disturbed by traffic and noise”. 76% of respondents agreed they would pay more for lumber & paper if it ensured that cutting trees was done in ways to help wildlife.   Do we citizens today still agree with these statements? If yes, have you notified the policy makers and voiced your opinion? ‘Never underestimate the power of a small group of determined people.’  – Margaret Meade.   

I believe, current views & knowledge of our wild surroundings seems to have increased, perhaps due to those who were in favor of coexistence in the 1980’s taught their children to do likewise and those children have taught their children. The reality is however that in general, people have become so urbanized that there is no contact with wild animals and their only way to connect and experience that awe and wonder is through zoos and live educational animal demonstrations. The wild habitats have been so degraded and manipulated for the sole purpose of human betterment, if the captive animals were to be returned to the wild, it would not survive.

Which is the right view: Individualistic or Holistic? One example being a native orchid was rapidly becoming extinct because of the deer population feeding upon them because predators who kept the deer population at a level sustainable for that habitat had been previously removed. What’s more important? How do we choose when the interests of two or more groups conflict?
Invasive species such as European Starlings and House Sparrow (English Finch) as well as Muscovy Ducks, Green Iguanas and Domestic Feral cats or Pigs are all species who in their own individual right should live but they exist in a foreign habitat and decimate the native species who have existed in that habitat for centuries. Hawaii is known as the extinction capital of the world in part due to all the introduced invasive species that have been released onto the isolated and fragile ecosystem. Wild animal activists are working hard to protect the unique biodiversity. They are empathetic to the individual but respectful of the natural ecosystem. These pests which do not belong, threaten the native habitats and inhabitants. What’s more important?

A report from 25 years ago, demonstrated the “assault on the natives” by the “army of foreign plant and animal invaders”. The cost to the nation at that time in the form of pest control was near $100 BILLION. Today it is $2,000,000,000.00 in ecological damage. More than 4,500 species had been either introduced intentionally or accidentally. Species such as kudzu vines, zebra mussels, purple loosestrife, fire ants, knapweed sp, Mediterranean fruit fly, Eurasian milfoil, boll weevils, common tansy, European gypsy moth, hawkshead sp. etc. etc. etc.

Ethics will offer guidance when faced with difficult decisions. Every action must consider the finite resources available, the social costs and benefits evaluated as well as ensuring a just distribution of benefits and burdens. Morals force us to focus on the value of being impartial. It can rapidly be degenerated into favoritism. Too many issues of conflicting moral demands may lead to burnout because of inadequate understanding or support. We are in this together. The actions of your neighbor have consequences and may directly affect you. The regulations set forth by city, state & national politicians on topics of natural resources to agricultural industry to pesticide or herbicide use all directly correspond to your survival.  

 A habitat is not an ecosystem. ‘A habitat patch must be large enough to provide equal input and output features to sustain a population. It is not just size but structural components. – From forests to lakes and everything in between, it is vital to maintain a healthy habitat.’- McComb. A habitat must have 7 components to sustain life: heat, food, shelter, air, light, soil, water.  An ecosystem is a ‘household’ of organisms and its environment. Humans are part of the household.
In times past: Chicago was once a swamp – full of vegetation and marsh birds, fish and amphibians. Guinea Pigs were once wild species inhabiting the Andes. They were domesticated and now extinct in the wild. Settlers hunted & domesticated the Wild North American Turkey to near extinction. A mexican race (subspecies) had to be imported. The true Eastern Turkey has a brown tail tip, whereas the Mexican has a white tail tip.    

The 1968 International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) reported fewer than 10 bird species vanished in the 1600’s, 21 in the 1700’s, 75 in the 1800’s, 54 to the mid 1900’s. Well over 300 bird species alone are considered endangered.
Current reports show the rising temperatures are causing the tundras of the north are shrinking; giving rise to fields. The species that have inhabited it for generations are starving. The marshlands (which provide Moose a food source and a means to alleviate the biting insects as well as respite from the hot sun) are changing into forests. The Moose population in the North East – Great Lakes area has declined greatly. The speculations from experts include climate change, ticks and consequential hypothermia due to hair loss and ‘toxin’ ingestion.   

Did you know? The Wolverine population decline is shown in regions where wolf population has also declined. They rely upon each other. Documentary 2008 from ‘Lords of Nature’ – ‘life in a land of great predators’.  

Grizzly bears remain in the cool high country (altitude of 6 – 7000 feet) in late summer/fall to feast on the Army cutworm moth (who feeds on the high alpine native flowers: lupine, daisy, & paintbrush). The insects hide in rock crevices during hot days in high country. Moths do arrive in high summer alpine countries from the wheat fields of the plains. They are following the wild flowers which are full of nectar and pollen. The problem is there are fewer moths due to pesticide use. These moths provide protein for the bears during winter hibernation. 40,000 insects are consumed (at 1 calorie each) in one day!

The White Bark Pine trees – grow mainly in higher elevations have seeds that are spread by Clarks Nutcracker but Pine Squirrels cache them but are raided by the bears. A good crop keeps the bears in high country so no people confrontation for garbage. The problem is disease and insect infestation is destroying this vital tree population.

The future of the species relies on food, water, shelter. The threats are interlinked: The native cut throat trout is killed by the introduced Lake Trout (Mackinaw). Pesticides kill insects. Humans dig up (illegally) native wild flowers.  Warming trends take bug shelter away. Trees will take over if rise in temperatures continue. Therefore fewer flowers will be present. Blister-rust is invading White Pines therefore no seeds to provide food for the bird, squirrels, bears. No chance for future tree growth. Without the high protein of the nuts the bears do not have sufficient calories for hibernation and successful breeding. The more aggressive the predator the lower the baby survival rate; the parent gone to get food and young vulnerable. 

Researchers began their study in response to rising numbers of human-bear conflicts and the changing climate. Article by Bruce Finley, Amy Brothers and RJ Sangosti of the Denver Post April 2, 2017. Excerpts follow:  
Warmer temperatures near their rocky den that shorten hibernation. “We could see a ratcheting down of the (black) bear population,” said CPW biologist Heather Johnson, leader of the research, who used radio collars and monitored movements of 40 bears at a time.
“Human development is really expanding,” she said. “There’s shrinking safe space for these wild bears to be.”
“the key driver of bear populations is going to be the carrying capacity of the environment. And that is going to be related to soil moisture and plant productivity — which is directly related to the climate. You cannot change policy overnight on accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, rising temperatures and changes in precipitation. We will want to be addressing these ultimate factors that are driving wildlife populations.” – Colorado State University conservation biologist Barry Noon.
“If bears are denning less, they’re active longer. They’re interacting with people more. It’s going to change the numbers of interactions people have with bears. We should expect our rate of interactions with bears to really increase.” conflicts happen because bears wander into cities looking for food when natural foods aren’t available during dry years, which with climate change is expected to happen more often. – Johnson

Beyond foraging, CPW researchers focused on hibernation. They determined that bears hibernate seven days less for every 1.8-degree temperature increase at their dens. In addition, for every 10 percent increase in overlap of foraging terrain with urban development, hibernation decreased by three days.
“As the average temperatures in this state increase,” Johnson said, “we should expect our bears will sleep less.” That means bears probably will be more active, leading to more potential encounters with people.
The end result? Bears lost out, because even though human food helped them reproduce, fewer were able to survive. From 2011 to 2016, CPW researchers documented a drop in the female bear population to 84 from 200, mostly due to a dry year in 2012 that drove more bears into Durango. The population didn’t bounce back.

An Oregon State University horticulture research study reported on the decline of Aspen in Yellowstone. They discovered in that National Park (and several others) that the loss of top predator is directly related to the decline of streamside trees. The intricate network of connectivity is astounding!
The aspens in Wyoming declining causes bank erosion. The lack of shade also causes rise water temperature. The warmer temperatures cause small creatures (fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects) demise. There is also less songbirds – example being the Pine Grosbeak makes up to 20% of its diet with the buds of willow, aspen, poplar trees. Without the top predators, there are increased prey species. These animals require large quantities of vegetation; the loss of trees and bank vegetation causes erosion and alters the quality of the stream. In Yellowstone, the top species affected are the Wolf and Elk and White Tail Deer. In Utah’s Zion National Park the decline of the cottonwood trees directly affects the cougar and mule deer.  

 “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise” – Aldo Leopold. This view places the ecosystem at the center. The view is holistic. All life is interconnected but the individual is simply part of the whole.  
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. …the air shares its spirit with all life it supports. …(I) do not understand how the smoking iron horse (locomotive) can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts are gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected. You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children-that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth soon be falls the sons of the earth. If men spit on the ground, they spit on themselves. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. 
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may someday discover, our God is the same God. You may think that you own Him, as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man, and his compassion is equal for the red man and the white. This earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. The whites too shall pass, perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your own bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.      But in perishing, you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of God, who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.  That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the sacred corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the hills blotted by taking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival.  - Chief Seattle 1854 statement excerpt

Joseph Wood Krutch felt and stated that ‘Man’s assumption that the earth can be treated as belonging to man alone and can pursue his immediate aims without regard to the fact that he is no less than the humblest animal and is part of an interrelated complex to which he must adjust himself.’ Fortunately while others are still learning there are consequences for every action, some humans recognize the true reality of the statement that humans are the most destructive predators on the earth today and act accordingly. Many countries have even passed laws or rewritten their constitution (such as Ecuador in 2008) protecting the rights of rivers, forests and ecosystems. There must be an extension of moral concern over all native species is the general concern at the world summits on sustainable development. These regulations should not be viewed as a loss of what John Locke viewed as natural rights, the right to life liberty and property. We as rational and compassionate humans should accept the responsibility to self-impose freedom of actions because it is the ethical thing to do. It is the dignified way to survive. To phrase it simply, live simply so others may simply live.

We as humans have been on the precipice of oblivion for years. To put it into scientific terms: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The use of pesticide, herbicide, insecticide, as well as direct or indirect dumping of chemicals into the land, waterways and air not to mention unsustainable harvesting of natural resources and prolific human population growth are all actions which have consequences for not only human population in part due to the limits of carrying capacity (coincidently for the US was lost in the 1970’s) but all our native neighbors and our combined home.

To view it from the ethical perspective held by Immanuel Kant, we must treat others as a free and equal person; the actions must be acceptable to be performed by all, and always respect each other even to the extent of developing the ability for that person to choose an action for themselves. These actions are not motivated by self-advancement, but out of duty as being the right way for all people to behave.  
Those who are privileged enough to be self-isolating are perhaps rediscovering what it means to be part of nature. The days of hectic lifestyle and experiencing chaos may be a distant memory but recall in the midst of the storm you felt isolated and focused solely on yourself. And now that the pace has slowed, life has taken priority. When you are in nature, with your wild native neighbors, you experience calm as you identify with all those individuals around you. You recognize you are but one strand in the intricately woven web of life.

Now is the time to ask ourselves and each other: What’s more important? career, wealth, intelligence, status or peaceable coexistence with the native neighbors who have been struggling to share our unique fragile ecosystems. Do we consider them living beings who are also entitled to moral standings and have rights? Please bear in mind as you venture forth, ultimately what we do to them and theirs so too we do to ourselves. Leonard Peltier was quoted saying “I don’t know how to save the world. I don’t have the answers or The Answer. I hold no secret knowledge as to how to fix the mistakes of generations past and present. I only know that without compassion and respect for all of Earth’s inhabitants, none of us will survive – nor will we deserve to.”  

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

50 years of formally acknowledging Earth Day! how will you celebrate?

On the first Earth Day, in 1970, a cartoon poster created by Walt Kelly, appeared at rallies in all 50 states. It showed a rueful (Pogo) opossum picking up papers, bottles, cans, wrappers—the detritus of modern life. Superimposed on the image were the words. “WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US”. We had scheduled a litter clean-up of our adopted section of scenic highway 200 for the weekend but ITD has issued cancellation and postponement of all voluntary activities.

If you are seeking something lighter, read “he who plants a tree” or watch the leave it to beaver 1950’s television series which showcases the poem. There is one episode where the youngest member of the family demonstrates that it is possible to love something other than human beings and does not understand why the grownups question his logic.

If you are seeking reflection from the pragmatic side of many wildlife rehabilitators across the nation and globe, a direct quote from a Bonner County licensed rehabilitation professional - Two intake eagles from this weekend. One died already, the other will as well. Blood lead levels are irreversible and incompatible with life 😢.

The national wildlife rehabilitators association created a statement on lead toxicity in 2015. It reads in part “Lead is toxic to living organisms. There is no safe level of lead exposure for humans or wildlife. Studies have found that more than 130 species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, are affected by lead toxicity. Lead ammunition is banned completely in Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden and in waterfowl hunting specifically in fourteen countries including the US and Canada. Lead fishing tackle is banned completely in Denmark and some fishing tackle regulations exist in the UK, Canada, and in 6 US states.  Waterfowl mortality due to lead toxicity declined after the implementation of Canadian and US bans on lead shot for wetland gamebirds.”  A bird hanging upside down as if it were a bat is a sign of significant life threatening problems. 
Regulations of lead based ammunition have taken place around the world. Dominique Avery and Richard Watson of the Peregrine Fund in Boise Idaho have written an article detailing their findings. The US is at the bottom of that list regarding how it is protecting not only the wild animals affected by lead ammunition including the Bald Eagle, our national symbol but also American citizens!

 The American Bird Conservancy website showcases an article by Jeff Miller from the Center for Biological Diversity informs us all that “Lead has been known to be highly toxic for more than 2,000 years. Its use in water pipes, cosmetics, pottery and food is suspected as a major contributing factor in the collapse of the Roman Empire. Lead causes numerous pathological effects on living organisms, from acute, paralytic poisoning and seizures to subtle, long-term mental impairment, miscarriage, neurological damage, and impotence. Even low levels of lead can impair biological functions. There may be no safe level of lead in the body tissues of fetuses and young. Despite knowledge of how dangerous lead is, it continues to be used in hunting and fishing products that expose wildlife and humans to lead. In recent decades the federal government has implemented regulations to reduce human lead exposure in drinking water, batteries, paint, gasoline, toys, toxic dumps, wheel balancing weights, and shooting ranges. Because there are now numerous, commercially available, non-toxic alternatives, the petitioning groups are urging the EPA to develop regulations to require non-lead rifle bullets, shotgun pellets, and fishing weights and lures throughout the nation. Non-toxic steel, copper, and alloy bullets and non-lead fishing tackle are readily available in all 50 states. Hunters and anglers in states and areas that have restrictions or have already banned lead have made successful transitions to hunting with non-toxic bullets and fishing with non-toxic tackle. Over a dozen manufacturers of bullets have designed and now market many varieties of non-lead, nontoxic bullets and shot with satisfactory to superior ballistic characteristics – fully replacing the old lead projectiles. The Toxic Substances Control Act gives the EPA broad authority to regulate chemical substances that present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, such as lead. The EPA can prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of lead for shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers.

“It's long past time do something about this deadly – and preventable – epidemic of lead poisoning in the wild,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Over the past several decades we've wisely taken steps to get lead out of our gasoline, paint, water pipes and other sources that are dangerous to people. Now it's time to get the lead out of hunting and fishing sports to save wildlife from needless poisoning.”
An estimated 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United States. This occurs when animals scavenge on carcasses shot and contaminated with lead bullet fragments, or pick up and eat spent lead-shot pellets or lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit. Some animals die a painful death from lead poisoning while others suffer for years from its debilitating effects. For a poignant look read Katie Fallon’s book “Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird.”
“The science on this issue is massive in breadth and unimpeachable in its integrity,” said George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy. “Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show continued lead poisoning of large numbers of birds and other animals, and this petition is a prudent step to safeguard wildlife and reduce unacceptable human health risks.”
At least 75 wild bird species are poisoned by spent lead ammunition, including bald eagles, golden eagles, ravens and endangered California condors. Despite being banned in 1992 for hunting waterfowl, spent lead shotgun pellets continue to be frequently ingested by swans, cranes, ducks, geese, loons and other waterfowl. These birds also consume lead-based fishing tackle lost in lakes and rivers, often with deadly consequences.

Lead ammunition also poses health risks to people. Lead bullets explode and fragment into minute particles in shot game and can spread throughout meat that humans eat. Studies using radiographs show that numerous, imperceptible, dust-sized particles of lead can infect meat up to a foot and a half away from the bullet wound, causing a greater health risk to humans who consume lead-shot game than previously thought. A recent study found that up to 87 percent of cooked game killed by lead ammunition can contain unsafe levels of lead. State health agencies have had to recall venison donated to feed the hungry because of lead contamination from lead bullet fragments. Nearly 10 million hunters, their families and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations may be at risk.”
View the entire article with this link.

Do not misinterpret this article or try to pick and choose statements to fit a personal agenda. 
Being active and recreating in our natural world is what we all should enjoy. It keeps us connected and grounded! Humans are not here to have domination over this planet; we are here to share this space with all our neighbors and ensure there are sufficient resources for future generations.

J. Minick in his November 2018 article in the New York Times explains it like this:   In many ways, hunters are the staunchest conservationists. We understand deer populations and forest dynamics. We spend time outside observing. We support wildlife conservation through hundreds of millions of dollars in license fees. So why do we poison the very places and animals we love?
The doubters argue that there’s only a little bit of lead in a bullet. The truth is roughly 90 percent of the 9 billion bullets manufactured each year are made partly of lead. Veterinarians know, though, that it takes only a little bit of lead to poison an eagle, vulture or raven. As Ms. Fallon writes, “A lead fragment as small as a grain of rice can be fatal to a bald eagle.” These birds clean up the carcasses or the remains of the animals we kill. And so, we often condemn them to a slow demise.
In the wild, a bird’s death is in secret, but when a sick bird arrives at a rescue center, the pain is revealed. Lead poisoning first causes lethargy and weakness. Birds fail to fly or can do so only briefly. The weakness becomes more distinct — the birds can’t hold their necks straight or tuck their wings or call as they once did. They become crippled by severe appetite reduction, losing fat and muscle mass, so much so that the central bone of their ribs can protrude — what is called “hatchet breast.” Their digestion becomes so ruined that food sits inside their esophagus. When poisoning is fatal, near the end, they become paralyzed, comatose after muscle convulsion.

Occasionally these birds ingest large amounts of lead and die quickly, but usually they die slow deaths, the lead taking two to four weeks, or even 15 weeks, to kill. And then more eagles and vultures come along to eat the carcasses and also become poisoned.
A bird can eat a sublethal amount of lead but easily be killed by the resulting weakness. It can’t fly or hunt as well, causing broken wings and other injuries. Sometimes veterinarians can treat lead-poisoned birds, but often they have little success. As Milton Friend, the former director of the federal National Wildlife Health Center, warned in 1989 in the “Waterfowl Management Handbook,” “The use of nontoxic shot is the only long-term solution for significantly reducing migratory bird losses from lead poisoning.”
Heeding this and other warnings, in 1991 the federal government imposed a ban on all lands nationwide on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting after studies found widespread poisoning of ducks. A study of the ban’s effectiveness several years later found that it had prevented the premature deaths of millions of waterfowl.
American Bird Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, Association of Avian Veterinarians, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and the hunters' group Project Gutpile are asking for the ban under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates dangerous chemicals in the United States.

I am asking you now, please take a moment to reflect on your habitat requirements. All life (two legged, four legged, feathered, scaled, skinned, or exoskeleton) need seven components to live. And all life needs each other. Live simply to that others may simply live.
 “It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence over the fields and woods and marsh.”  - “A Fable for Tomorrow” from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring 1962

Please consider giving to American Heritage Wildlife Foundation especially during the #idahogives campaign April 23 through May 7th. When you give, they have a chance to live. We are 100 % community supported with volunteers and funding.  Your support is keeping #idahowild. Thank you.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Social Distancing lessons from Nature

The year of the Rat, according to zodiac calendars, entered in and brought with it the latest global pandemic. Through the ages humans have suffered the consequences of pestilential diseases – be they viral, bacterial, or fungal. There are documents from the 1300’s reporting the ‘black death’ plague. The first case of bubonic plague in humans was recorded in San Francisco in March of 1900. Within the last 200+ years we have seen have seen assorted outbreaks – Spanish Influenza, Typhoid, Small Pox, Scarlet Fever, Yellow Fever, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis,  Polio, AIDS, Anthrax, WNVS, SARS, Bird Flu, Swine (H1N1) Flu, Ebola, Zika. The important lessons learned through the centuries can be directly applied to our appreciation of our native wild animal neighbors today!   

Do not create unattended stockpiles of items. This will attract unwanted rodents and other animals. Animals who alter their natural wild habits and become reliant upon humans for food or shelter will not remain in top condition therefore they themselves become prone to disease and parasites such as fleas and ticks. External parasites are carriers of many diseases, like bubonic plague which is zoonotic – meaning it crosses boundaries from animal to human without hesitation.

Don’t be the vector. Simply put a vector is a line – from one point to another. For example the vector of plague was the flea on the rat who found food and shelter inside the house of the human. The flea was then able to infect the human. Don’t be the ‘flea’ brain and find yourself the direct line of why your community is suffering due to your incorrect cohabitation habits. One example: leaving garbage strewn about year round or putting out bags of corn. Then in the Autumn, state wildlife officers hearing complaints about a bear refusing to enter hibernation because it is searching for easy food.  

Recognize the ‘host range’.  Viruses will have a particular species which is susceptible, the host range. Just say this is the species the virus must have in order to survive. A wild animal has a range or territory; this is the place where all the requirements of life must be found in order to survive. Without the (host) range it will die.

The most important lesson is to appreciate life from afar. Take a moment to reflect what social distancing means. Now write with indelible ink upon your memory that wild animals should always be appreciated from a social distance.

There have been far too many reports made of human and wild animal conflict. The tragedy is in most of these instances, the tragedy should not have occurred. The human simply was not respecting the social distance - the fight or flight range of the wild animal, the result usually being death. Tourist injured by a charging Bear. Mountain Goat dies after fleeing photographers. Child injured due to trying to pick up a young Raccoon. Painted Turtle euthanized to end suffering caused by malnourishment relating to illegal capture and possession by private citizen.  Bald Eagle suffered irreparable damage from gunshot wounds to wings.

Respect #socialdistancing and our #wildidaho. You can find out more about keeping Idaho wild by going to the secure American Heritage Wildlife Foundation website at Find also on social media or call 208.266.1488

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Gone in a FLASH - 2019 report

I will document the 2019 report a little different this year, instead of listing by specific categories: wildlife, education and financial, I wanted to take you deeper into what actually takes place at your nonprofit wildlife center. My hope is you will see an area where you can lend a hand in 2020. You will read we needed all hands on deck (and more) in 2019.

   Over 100 volunteer hours recorded. 4 raccoon and 5 squirrel patients who had been in care since June and September 2018 are still being cared for. Their daily requirements are shelter, food, water, and enrichment. New patients accepted were one female Mallard and one Fox Squirrel. Complete and submit the 2018 USFWS and IDFG wild animal rehabilitation reports. Projects needing attention are the access doorway from the infirmary into the mammal room and the Intern RV needs propane heater repaired.  Volunteers responded to less than a dozen phone messages.
   Planning started for the upcoming 2019 events including reviewing the candidates for the September clean comedy show. Additionally, applications for the summer internship started being submitted for review. Preparing the powerpoint presentation for the little panida theater event next month. The January newsletter was prepared and sent/posted.  New website software was used to create a fresh new look to our webpage – dozens of hours were donated. Much of 2018 was spent working on the page and attempting to upload as well as 2019. There were just not enough hours in the day to put this necessary item higher on the priority list. Technology issues related to malicious hackers followed our webpage into the 2019 year. Our new software which would have offered a more user friendly and fresh updated view has not been able to be uploaded to our new secure https:// website. The webpage able to be viewed and uploaded was from 2017 and was interfering with our ability to update the page and use the new software. The creator of AHWF found time to begin preparing her 6th book – an anecdotal retelling of past wildlife patients over the course of almost 20 years.   
   For the last several years our volunteers have been offering the citizens of Bonner County lectures relating to wildlife. During the first three to five months you will find AHWF at the Clark Fork Library on the second Saturday of the month. In January 2019, we continued this tradition. January topic native neighbors and the requirements of a habitat. A planning session for next month’s public event took place as well. Frequent posts were made on the various social media sites as well as posting the 2018 annual report onto our blogger page. Start working on the applications for USFWS and IDFG special purpose for possession of dead migratory birds (and mammals) for educational purpose permits. Submit with required fees when completed. Begin researching various STEM approved educational items to purchase for the nature walk. the project is at a standstill.     Teespring and paypal contributions continuing to be automatically deposited. Thank you letters to all donors who contributed funds this month. Applied for one general operating expenses grant – if approved will be notified in March. Working on a community strategies grant – will be notified in May and wildlife care grant. IRS form 990 to be prepared and submitted soon. Conversations started regarding the upcoming bowling for wildlife and the panida theater events. Monthly board meeting.    
   Almost 200 volunteer hours recorded. Continuing care of the raccoons, squirrels, and duck. Volunteers responded to around a dozen phone messages. Admittance of one silver haired bat, who required daily feedings. Responded to three other cases – crow, squirrel and cormorant who were not delivered or died. Intern interviews took place. The chosen candidates declined the position. The position reposted and promoted. Research about new incubators. Local veterinarian donated a very old but functioning xray machine – need to identify where a room can be built and then coordinate how to operate along with necessary supplies needed.
   Clark Fork Library presentation on backyard birds (to recognize the great backyard bird count national birders event) took place the second Saturday of the month.  Did not attend and set up a table at the bonner mall cabin fever sale. More coordinating details and advertising of the bowling for wildlife event at huckleberry lanes next month. Prepare and send press releases.    Prepare for and provide the educational and entertaining program our 3rd annual AHWF, ICL, KLT combined event at the little panida theater. This year Jerry Ferrara speaking about his wildlife photography career. Little Eagle – the domestic rock dove who had been cared for over a decade died of cancer at the end of 2018 and had been at the taxidermist. She was returned and is ready to be used as an educational tool. A Great Blue Heron patient who died was delivered and is to be mounted as a teaching device (at least 6 months wait). Meeting with Sandpoint Community Resource Center discussing volunteer recruitment.     Website host contract (purchased in 2015) expires February 2021. Domain paid through 2024. Average not quite $100 per year. Additionally the SSL and security deluxe contract were renewed to ensure site remains a clean site for one year over $300. This is the final year of the local pages contract. Did not renew this phone book advertising contract. Maintaining presence on social media.
Volunteers working to update the volunteer list and one board member attended a session about board management and training. Two board members met to discuss the nature path booklet and other useful teaching tools. Board meeting agenda emailed. Interim report submitted to the funder who approved the grant to create the Nature Walk, the final is due next month. The final report was completed for a grant received in 2018. One grant submitted for outreach. IdahoGives is the online event in May, cost to enter is $100. We have averaged just over $500 per year profits the last 4 years. The crowdfunding pages are successful when created and promoted but unable to make time for this project. Funds continuing to come in monthly from a handful of donors. Prepare and send out thank you letters. Funds also gained from the online shopping programs including escrip - yokes.   

   More than 200 volunteer hours recorded. Continuing to care for the Mallard Duck, Raccoons, Fox Squirrel and Bat.  about a dozen phone messages recorded. Interviews for the intern beginning again. Additional research on possibly purchasing new incubators and also a class 3 ‘healing’ laser. Unable to attend the Bat care symposium in Boise. USFWS and IDFG special use for education permits approved – cost $127.   
   Report sent to the state tax commission. Board meeting with focus on entering or declining to enter again the online idahogives fundraising event.  Prepare thank you letters to the donors from this month including the handful of monthly donors.    Library presentation on wild babies – to rescue or not to rescue.  Bingo at the Clark Fork Center being coordinated. Bowling for Wildlife (fundraiser) at Huckleberry Lanes took place over $400 collected. Drawing for Silverwood passes raffle took place. Wildlife trust contribution obtained. Some nature prepare progress with the goal of EarthDay grand opening including education stations. Purchased some teaching tools. Highway clean up date chosen for next month. Investigating possibility of a volunteer promotional event at local restaurant. High School student interviewed founder for her senior project.IPA contacted for the usual annual autumn event but they are booked.  Matchwood brewery contacted for upcoming September event. Comedian chosen, need to complete the contract, reserve the venue, and hotel. Send in story to the One million acts of good – ellen degeneres and cheerios campaign to promote good deeds and service groups. Contact north 40 regarding offering public presentations (as seen in their flyer). Website clean and secure for one year. working with one volunteer to submit her photos to an online source where vistors can purchase thereby creating a revenue source for AHWF. Creating bowling event  advertisements.

   Almost 300 volunteer hours recorded. Continuing daily care for a few weeks before releasing the 4 Raccoons (in care for 10 months), 5 Fox Squirrels (in care for 8 months) and the Mallard Duck (in care for about 10 weeks). Responded to around 50 phone messages. Met and instructed new animal care volunteer. New battery pack purchased for the cordless.  Continuing care of the Silver Haired Bat and accepted one Pine Squirrel as well as one Snowshoe Hare and one Coyote. The latter two were hit by cars and died.  Passerine bird care book purchased. Time being committed to creating powerpoint protocols to be used as training new animal care volunteers and interns. Photos submitted to a research student creating a baby bird identification database through Tufts University. Several hours dedicated to preparing the intern RV and attempting to fix the propane issues.
   Board meeting and. Library presentation on respect and humane eviction. Created advertisement seeking volunteers since no intern was found cost around $150. Promotion of ahwf merchandise on our social media pages. Two sweatshirts sold. Thank you letters mailed to the monthly donors. Several days nature walk trail work taking place but we were not able to open for EarthDay as we had hoped. Attend a nonprofit awareness event at a town pub. Pick up supplies for and schedule the Highway clean up. Bingo fundraiser took place, despite modest turn out almost $800 from the game, donated food and beverage and raffles. Contact made with another ‘shopping for charity’ type program. wine cellars will donate 15% to charity.  Meeting with local business relating to cost of creating educational banners for the nature walk. contact made for a repairman for the intern RV propane issues with water heater and furnace. File the 990N with the IRS. Paid the $100 entry fee for IdahoGives next month. No time to create additional crowdfunding campaign. Check sent to reserve the venue for the clean comedy show and silent auction for September. Contract returned to the comedian and $1000 fee. Hotel to be booked soon. Start process of locating beer and wine vendor. Last years chosen did not show up. Over 200 pounds of Aluminum cans collected by supporters delivered for recycling. raised almost $100.

   Over 400 volunteer hours recorded. Around 60 phone messages responded to. Accept one juvenile Dove, four nestling American Robins, one Northern Painted Turtle, one Broad Tailed Hummingbird, one young Canada Goose, one Chipping Sparrow, five hatchling Finches, three Coyote pups, one Mallard Duckling. Three juvenile Crows. One Morning Dove. And five young Deer Mice. One adult and one juvenile Wild Turkey received doa, one Black Chinned Hummingbird, two Mallard Ducklings. Continue daily care of the Pine Squirrel and the Silver Haired Bat from previous months intake. Work on exterior yard preparations - thank you to those who assisted.  Two applicants interested in the intern position.  Unable to attend the Washington state rehabbers conference. Wildlife triage webinar attended.   A few volunteers able to come out a few days. Two of our main trail work volunteers moved out of the area. Limited time to update the quick reference diet cards. Wildlife protocols completed. Board meeting agenda emailed. Arranged transfer of the single young gosling to a facility about three hours away who has permits to possess foster geese and coordinate release later in the month of the Dove. Sadly many of the patients either died from their trauma or were euthanized.
   Contact made to discuss potential event at wrenco arms new indoor shooting range.  
Prepare grant. Contact north 40 for wildlife educational sessions again without result.
IdahoGives took place with a few locations in town set up to promote our causes. Total income over $1000 thanks to the bonus award of $500. Prepare thank you letters to each donor. Ordering necessary supplies. Conversation took place with possibility of major ‘rock star’ as supporter. Thank you letters created for the monthly donors. Continuing to post on social media and a mini newsletter . A few days of nature walk trail volunteer work. Amazon shopping and other direct deposits made as well as our supporting monthly donors. Sign up for the babywarm incubator program. Create sponsor an animal posts. Start preparing the upcoming newsletter. Sign up for the charity donation program through rodentpro. Unable to accept the invitation to set up a table at the lost in the 50’s event. Start researching the bar trivia rules for the upcoming wildlife trivia event. Researching the cost of alcohol vendors for the comedy show. Sent in the ink cartridges for recycling. still need to collect rhree more technology items such as cell phone, ipad kindle to submit for recycling. one new monthly online donor.   Highway clean up scheduled. 5 patrons in attendance. No responses from the two weeks of reader advertisements seeking volunteers. Working to coordinate the wildlife trivia event and the live music fundraiser. Dr.Mehra (NIAH) used her local media publication spot to promote renesting or reuniting wild animals first in her usual monthly write up.

   More than 500 volunteer hours recorded, about 12 days of volunteers at the facility. Over 100 phone calls responded to. Calls included the Sandpoint City Beach round up of all Canada Geese took place – time invested to find out from state and federal agencies if this was approved and permitted. The IDFG decision to not allow transfer of ungulates from central Idaho to the north due to CWD concerns as well as refusal to rehabilitate any central Idaho predators. Additionally the rejection of accepting or returning any predatory species from Washington. One caller sought our assistance with a wild animal she had kept for 2 month and wanted to release it but the animal was completely habituated. We will not accept any animal from citizens who made the perpetual decision to ‘care long term’ for this animal. Policy will be clarified to disallow non-native species as well. About 10 days of helpers assisting with animal care. Animal taxi volunteers have been assisting with transport when the veterinary hospital calls with cases. New patients: Pine Squirrel patient, Robin adult, Finch nestling, Mountain Chickadee subadult, two nestling Rufous Hummingbirds, one hatchling Pygmy Nuthatch, one Skunk youngster, one Pileated Woodpecker,  one Hairy Woodpecker, one Snowshoe Hare, one Raccoon juvenile, one Winter Wren.  two Crows and one Mallard Duck. Still caring daily for the Dove, Turtle, Pine Squirrels, Ducklings, Crows, Coyotes Deer Mice and Bat. Schedule release of Finches, Pine Squirrels, Deer Mice.Crow, Mallard duck and Turtle. Finally release the  Silver Haired Bat after 4 months of care.
   Register for the Brinsea grant. Post on social media and announce via email of this program. We were supported in just a few hours and received our brand new TLC 40 Incubator!  Thank you notices created for monthly donors and all online donors who provided their contact.
Contact made to Schweitzer mountain resort about the chairs for charity program. Unfortunately no one nominated AHWF and by the time our volunteers heard about it all the $2000 ski lift chairs were already designated. Declined the annual Schweitzer Mountain 7BSunday due to lack of volunteers. The Idaho Club walk with an expert was cancelled. Board meeting. Complete and sent in a general operating grant request. Phone calls made for volunteers to assist with the Independence day celebration in Clark Fork next month. A few days of nature walk work. start working on the newsletter for next month. Unable to make time to telephone those who have emailed or sent in volunteer forms. Minimal responses from the facebook post pleading for volunteer help.  Nature walk volunteer day this month. The final report was due to the funder March.

   Over 300 volunteer hours recorded. Responded to almost 100 phone calls this month; one day there was 18 messages waiting. only 9 days of animal care helpers. Continuing to provide daily care for young Mallard Ducks, Skunk, Raccoon, Pygmy Nuthatch, Woodpecker, American Crows and Coyotes. Accepted new patients: 5 Skunks who after quarantine were introduced to the single currently in care. one Mink, one Northern Flicker, two Barn Swallow nestlings (who require daily feedings for 16 hours each day). one Big Brown Bat adult. one Violet Green Swallow. one neonatal big brown Bat (about the size of a thumb nail) weighing 1.9 grams. one Crow. one Pine Squirrel. one Barn Swallow youngster. one subadult Robin. one Pine Siskin. three Sparrow nestlings. one House Finch – with several medical issues. one Rufous Hummingbird with broken wing.  two Robin nestlings. Also arranged the transfer of two young raccoons from a licensed facility in Boise so the single currently in care will have companions. Volunteers here working on just cleaning several times and preparing the raccoon external yard for use.  Coordinated the release of the Barn Swallows and the three Crows. Arranged transfer including animal taxi relay team for the Bat Baby to a licensed facility about three hours away who had the time to dedicate to him. Released the Hairy Woodpecker, the Pygmy Nuthatch who had required 14 hours a day minimum every day since early June when accepted. Coordinated and released the Coyotes – Idaho state requires that all predatory species be released on private property not state lands. Also released the Skunks and 2 different Crows. Mid-month was the first time in several weeks that the main wildlife care specialist could end the day before 9PM! Search and submit hatchling and nestling photographs to a student from Tufts university creating a baby bird database. Attend webinar regarding nonprofit management. Prepare Idaho department of fish and game rehabilitation renewal permit and the AHWF newsletter.  
   Renew the highway clean up contract with Idaho transportation department. Send in Idaho Secretary of State report. Set up for the Independence day celebration in Clark Fork. Work on creating the wildlife trivia questions for the upcoming presentation. Start investigating the formation of a state network of rehabbers. Send emails about the interest of forming a state network of Idaho Wildlife Rehabilitators Board meeting agenda emailed. Start searching for event sponsors for the upcoming events. Prepare ads for the listing of all upcoming events and press releases. Meet with Matchwood Brewery owner regarding the upcoming trivia night event in September and spoke with Farmhouse Kitchen to be the beer and wine vendor for the comedy show.  Board member created and purchased custom created ahwf lapel pins to hand out at the comedy show. Thank you letters prepared for the monthly donors and other supporters including those who chose items from our wish list. Nature Walk trail work twice this month. Work on the nature walk booklet and send to printer.

   More than 200 volunteer hours recorded. continuing care for the Mink, Raccoons, nest of Sparrows and the quarantined House Sparrow. Respond to 50 phone calls. Coordinating with various volunteers to assist with animal care. about 8 days of animal care volunteers. Accept new patients; two Robin nestlings, one neonatal Fox Squirrel, one nest of House Wrens, and one Osprey sadly was doa. Coordinate the release of Sparrows and the young Mink to rejoin mother and sibling.
   Primary means of transportation required a trip to the mechanic. Brakes, suspension and engine gasket repairs needed. A few additional issues but will wait until next year for serpentine belt and alignment.  Begin planning with a central Idaho rehabber about the creation of creation of a network of Idaho rehabilitators. Board meeting agenda emailed. Promote scarecrow and comedy show along with other events. Solicit auction items and event sponsorships. Local high school student to start assisting twice a month until year end.  Working out final details for all aspects of each event taking place next month including alcohol permit from city of East Hope. Schedule times to work on grants for educational outreach/general operating. Meet with new board member treasurer reviewing financial data to date.  Two days of trail work completed – thank you Al & Lori. Obtain and plant assorted native and ornamental plant starts along the nature walk. Thank you letters sent to donors. Looking to schedule time to ‘winterize’ the facility enclosures.

   Around 300 volunteer hours recorded. over 2 dozen phone calls recorded. continuing care of the Raccoons, Fox Squirrel, and House Sparrow.  Accept new patients; two young Fox Squirrels and one Striped Skunk doa. Coordinate a release of the Raccoons mid-month.  Network with other rehabbers about challenging neonatal squirrel case. Idaho Department of Fish and Game wildlife rehabilitation permit renewed. Meeting in McCall of a few Idaho rehabilitators was cancelled. 
   Events taking place every week: Two wildlife trivia events, the 4th annual silent auction and clean comedy night, the funnel cake fundraiser, the 1st annual Alan & Jeannie Roach Apple pressing festival and carnival. Three days work on the nature walk trail. Two days of assistance from the high school student. Preparing a grant for submission and final report from previous approved grant. Board meeting agenda emailed. Respond to the local publication printing an article from a private citizen using the internet to guide her in how to raise a Robin. Inquire about the upcoming Christmas craft fair booth spaces from various locations. Review radio questions for the upcoming interview with the morning show on KRFY. Promote next month’s fundraising event and the scarecrow contest. Ads and press releases created. Prepare certificates of appreciation for businesses, including Northern Idaho Powersports for donating a set of ATV tires for auction, who supported AHWF and letters of thanks for the donors.     

   Around 250 volunteer hours. Blissfully quiet with less than a dozen phone calls. Continuing care for Fox Squirrels and House Sparrow. one Canada Goose patient accepted. One Ruffed Grouse and one Fox Squirrel both sadly did not survive their trauma. Coordinate release of Fox Squirrel.
   The founder was interviewed at both local radio stations KRFY & KSPT in October. The fourth annual Scarecrow contest took place the first three weekends at Hickey Farms. A live music fundraiser took place as well as the annual autumn highway clean-up of the AHWF section of scenic highway 200. Meetings with two interested volunteers and a local high school student assisted two days this month. Continuing to make some time to create the education station displays. Unable to attend the Washington State wildlife rehabilitators conference. Keeping a presence on social media. Send out inquiries again regarding formation of a state network of Idaho Wildlife rehabilitators and work on agenda and questionnaire. Investigate the national agency ‘senior corp’ as a way to obtain more volunteers. Board meeting agenda emailed. Raffle drawings for tropical vacation packages. Letters and certificates prepared thanking the supporters. About 100 pounds of aluminum cans recycled for $30.

   Around 200 volunteer hours. Only about a dozen calls received. There was issue with Frontier however and for three days we could not receive incoming calls. Accepted one Black Capped Chickadee and one Pine Grosbeak male. Still caring for the Canada Goose from last month and the young House Finch from summer. Was able to schedule release of the Pine Grosbeak after almost one month of care and also release of the House Finch patient after being in care for 4 mos. Arranged transfer of a young Canada Goose who was accepted last month. This youngster was from the Sandpoint City roundup and relocation attempt. If it were to return it would be killed; a licensed rehabilitator who has large housing capacity and adults for companionship is willing to release from her facility approximately three hours away.   
   The Ponderay Craft market booth fee $25. Collected $156 in donations.  Two days with the high school student assisting. Nominated for the Findlay charity of the month contest, which allows us to roll into December as one of three competing for $2000. We can continue into January with nomination to hope for funding. Monthly board meeting. Thank you letters prepared. Board member responded to email from Reader publication editor explaining that the USFWS contacted him about the article published from an unlicensed private citizens account of ‘raising a robin’ explaining the internet and youtube taught her how. Custom created Teeshirts were ordered for display on the tables. Follow up with the self-publishing book company about the issues with the five existing books being ebook compatible. One day of trail work. Start preparing united states fish and wildlife migratory bird rehabilitation department renewal permit. Prepare reader advertisement for back cover and interior responding to the articles about nature trails. Email from guideposts all Gods creatures magazine to coordinate future interview. Submit press release to media about the upcoming events. Adjust the wildlife trivia presentation for the upcoming Christmas Party. Send emails and post social media frequently regarding the $2000 charity of the month contest. Telephone meeting scheduled from a center in Maine who has had success with their capital campaign. 

   Over 250 volunteer hours. Responded to just less than a dozen calls including a Stellar Jay, American Coot, and Canada Geese. One Canada goose patient admitted 9 days before the end of the year and released. December 31 = the first time since March 2018 the facility has been without any wild animal patients! Prepare usfws and idfg annual wildlife rehabilitation reports. As well as the USFWS and IDFG educational permit reports.  The USFWS migratory bird division rehabilitation permit needs application for renewal prepared. Prepare and send update to grant funder who funded the nature walk. Prepare the annual report to send to members and post on blogger page. Keep up with emails and social media. Prepare summer internship announcement and post on various university and wildlife group pages as well as direct emails. Write thank you letters to the donors who have contributed this month.
   Events taking place were Giving Tuesday – the online day of showing support for your favorite charity. The annual Bonner Mall Christmas 3 day craft fair booth fee $45. Several volunteers assisted. Just under $200 was collected in donations.  Submit Idaho state tax commission report.  We also placed some of our items at the PSNI Christmas market booth - fee $20. Accepted the invitation to join the North Idaho Animal Hospital staff at their Christmas party and present the wildlife trivia ppt. Created large back page and small interior advertisement to run in the Reader at cost of $600.    Two days of assistance from local high school student. Monthly board meeting agenda emailed and about five hours spent with webhost. The last attempt to upload the external software page failed and the files again hacked – infected. The webpage host was contacted and ‘cleaned’ up again however it will not be able to be utilized. Webpage being recreated once more using the online accessible only internal software available from the webhost. Cost to be around $10 per month plus domain/host fees. Estimated 20+ hours preparing template and working on glitches related to making it live. High school student who has been job shadowing for the past few months will have presentation next month. No trail work took place. Contact made with a volunteer who is eager to build the Gazebo for the Nature Walk.
   Gather all the financial details and prepare to submit the IRS report. Send thank you cards to all 2019 donors, unfortunately not able to send to those who remained anonymous during the several ‘birthday fundraisers’ on facebook. Escrip and Amazon smile are adding small monthly amounts, this month around $35. Confirming paypal charity program. Cloud Foundation and Winn Family trust donations received.  Nominated in November for a contest to win $2000. We collected sufficient votes to advance into December to be one of the three charities. Despite investment of time, and wonderful support we did not win December nor sufficient votes to advance into January but if collect enough votes to be again nominated and advance perhaps we can win February. Early in December entered a $10000 contest also based on number of votes plus judge panel decision – have not been notified of winning. Begin looking at 2020 schedule and planning events. Raffle drawings for the remaining tropical vacation packages. Surprisingly no one has bid on the custom made hand crafted knife donated for the silent auction but thankfully our friends at Our Neck of the Woods store in Ponderay agreed to have it on display. 

This year can only be described as a dizzying blur.
Total individual animal patients = 100.
Number of cases = 57.
(excluding the telephone consults who were never delivered).  
Total telephone calls = 440.
Total volunteer hours = 3,300 (conservatively). 
Take a moment to calculate the math and you will discover it is around 60 hours per week for all 52 week.

It does take a village to help our local native wildlife and educate our community. Caregiving takes a toll unless the work can be divided. There were days when it felt like the universe was on my shoulders and I was being crushed by the workload. Some days the telephone messages were near recorder capacity I did not even have time to make calls to ask for help and then my fellow volunteers stepped up and helped carry the load. They began to be directly involved with the necessary daily care requirements including just being here to respond to phone calls and handle behind the scenes chores such as cleaning and ordering supplies. They got involved with planning and coordinating events and writing articles.  I could not have gotten through this year without them. It was not just the physical presence but also the emotional and mental as well as financial support which lifted my spirit.
Thank You to all who gave of yourself for this mission.
                                                                                                                                                                          The cases this year ranged from waterfowl to passerines (songbirds), crows to woodpeckers. The mammals ranged from a raccoons to skunks and coyotes to a young mink who was attacked by a cat. We also had an injured northern painted turtle. Needless to say, the diversity of animals’ dietary needs and the required medical care has put quite a strain on the general operating budget.