Many people have bird feeders out and get enjoyment out of seeing birds in their back yard during the winter months.
If you pay attention you will have noticed that birds are well covered with a thick layers of warm feathers with the exception of their legs and feet, yet somehow these naked, spindly little legs and feet don’t freeze.
Birds actually have a nifty heat exchange system in their legs called Rete Mirabile which helps them prevent freezing. They share this system with some other animals such as fish and some mammals such as sloth and lorises.
In bird feet the arteries run really close to the veins causing warm blood heading from the body to the legs to warm the cooler blood flowing back to the body. This system reduces heat loss and is further enhanced by the arteries which relocate from a position closer to the skin during the summer more to the center of the leg during the colder winter month.
Bird lower legs and feet don’t contain muscles (just tendons). This causes the legs and feet to need very little energy allowing for reduced blood supply.
When it is really cold however even this system needs a little help and you will see birds sitting down with their feet tugged up into the downy feathers on their chest/belly to prevent their feet from freezing.
During severe cold spells we often receive calls from people who think waterfowl are frozen to the ice which most often is simply a case of a waterbird sitting on the ice using its feathers to keep its feet warm. They are often reluctant to move because exposing their naked feet to the cold can cause them to freeze, much like our fingers and toes.
Feet of a gull
Foot of a Grebe
Many healthy birds, particularly waterfowl spent a lot of time preening ensuring their plumage is perfectly oiled. The oil is produced by their uropygial gland which is located at the base of their tail. The oil repels water making it that the birds don’t get wet, but it also prevents them from freezing to the ice.
Waterfowl who are not healthy and therefore have neglected their plumage will often appear wet. These are birds who need help right away. In those causes don’t hesitate to contact you local SPCA, Humane Society, Animal Control or Authorized Wildlife Custodian.
Some of the birds of prey have adapted by growing feathers further down their legs and sometimes even feet reducing the exposed skin portion of the leg. This of course also helps reduce heat loss.
Close up of a Snowy Owl foot
Snowy Owl has feathered legs and toes
Rough legged hawk has feathers further down his leg than some other hawks
Here in Ontario songbird eggs will start to hatch soon. For us that means calls from people who have found a baby bird who has fallen from the nest.
Baby songbirds are very delicate and require the constant care of a parent. Most songbird parents lack the appropriate body parts to be able to pick up their fallen offspring and return them to the nest.
The big myth I want to debunk is that songbird parents will reject their young just because a human touched them and this is not true.
Meaning that it is perfectly okay for a person to pick up the fallen young and return it to the nest if it is within human reach.
I still recommend that you use gloves for your own safety and I would like to add to this that I do not advocate baby wildlife being handled willy-nilly, but when needed you can touch a baby bird without it being rejected by it’s parents.
If you can’t reach the nest or if the nest was destroyed for whatever reason. You can use something like a small margarine container (with holes in the bottom so it can’t fill up with water) lined with paper towel and hang it as near as you can get to the original nest site. Some metal wire can be helpful in securing it.
Now make sure that the area is as quiet as possible without human/pet presence to allow the parents to come back and adjust to the change.
At Hobbitstee when we get healthy songbird babies in who have been orphaned for some reason we often look for surrogate parents. Many, but not all species of songbird will readily care for a hatchling of the same species that is not their own.
We do this to allow the young to grow up like a normal songbird. No matter how hard we try as humans we make poor substitute wildlife parents.
When we get hatchlings in who are injured or we can’t foster with other birds we will raise them. This is a very delicate and time consuming undertaking. The feeding schedule for many baby birds is every half hour during daylight hours. There is also a huge variance in diets between species of songbirds and we work very hard to mimic their natural diets as much as we can so that they can grow up healthy.
One of the things that happens often later in the season is that people see fledglings and assume them to be orphaned. Fledglings are almost if not fully feathered and have left the nest to learn how to fly. The bird parents continue to care for the fledglings and if you watch (from an non-invasive distance) you can see the parents fly of and on with food.
It is therefor important to differentiate between baby birds who do and ones that don’t need your help. If the baby bird is almost fully feathered and is not injured it is likely a fledgling.
If you see a baby bird with little to no feathers out of the nest it does likely need help to either get returned to the nest if at all possible or to a rehab facility.
One of the common mistakes people make is to syringe water directly into the birds mouth. This can cause the bird to aspirate. Baby bird hatchlings actually don’t drink water. They get their fluids from the food they are fed.
Choosing the right diet for the right bird is important. Feeding a seed based diet to an insectivore as an example usually ends up killing the bird.
Determining what type of baby bird you are loking at can get really complicated when they don’t have feathers yet. Luckily at Hobbitstee we have some songbird identification experts on speed dial we call when we get stumped. It is important to get a correct identification so we know we are feeding an appropriate diet.
We also need to ensure that the hatchlings learn to be birds and learn appropriate bird and species-specific behavior. Imprinting on humans does not help the birds live a happy free bird life.
In Canada all the migratory birds are protected under Migratory Bird Conservation Act and in Ontario most non-migratory birds under the Fish and Wildlife Act meaning that without the appropriate permits it is a violation to be in possession of either.
Due to the time sensitive nature of baby birds it is appreciated that you get in touch with a wildlife rehabiliator as soon as you can and if at all possible help with transporting if need be.
Anyone who knows me has heard me say ‘Please don’t feed them’ over and over. This message can not be repeated often enough, but it was brought to my attention recently that I rarely take the time to explain why this is so important. My reason behind the lack of explanation is that it is a complex issue, but I have tried…(see below)
When you find what you perceive to be wildlife in distress there is a process to follow to determine if the animal truly needs your help. I have discussed that process many times and we will move on to why you should not feed them.
Often the animals are cold meaning they lack the energy to maintain their own body temperature and they are in shock. Usually dehydration of varying degrees is also an issue.
To give food to any animal compromised in such a way is a death sentence. It takes energy to digest food, energy a lot of compromised wildlife already don’t have enough of. Every last bit of energy is being used to maintain critical bodily functions and simply put to force energy away from these critical functions for something as non-critical as digesting food will cause organ failure and death.
The process we go through here at Hobbitstee when we receive wildlife (who are always compromised) is a very delicate one. The process starts with warming them up. Doing this takes away the energy requirement for the animal to maintain their own body temperature. We do this by using incubators, but also warmed IV fluids. This process takes a minimum of several hours and can take several days. We do not feed them until they are completely warm and re-hydrated. This is not something you can simulate at home. It requires knowledge, specialized equipment and products.
The question than becomes what do we feed them? We feed our mammal orphans specially formulated milk-replacers custom made for us and custom formulated to meet the nutritional requirements (to the best of our ability) of the mammal orphan in question.
I say to the best of our ability because not much research is being done into the nutritional requirement of many of the species of wildlife we care for. This means we are constantly tweaking the formulations to get the best possible results.
These milk-replacers are not commercially available, so it boils down to that puppy nor kitten milk-replacer is appropriate for wildlife mammals. Neither is cows milk, almond milk, human baby formula or anything else that you can purchase at the store.
When it comes to baby birds their nutritional requirements are even more complicated and it is very species specific. Some birds are insectivores and need a large variety of insects to thrive (meal worms nutritionally are no more than filler). Some birds strictly eat seeds, so their offspring needs an appropriate variety of hand feeding formula every half hour. Some birds are fructivores, so berries and such are what they need…Never mind the strict pscivores who can only eat fish.
A common mistake made is using bread. Bread is not a good food source for any specie of wildlife plain and simple. Don’t use it.
You see that all this can become very confusing and the wrong food to the wrong animal at the wrong time can also cause serious gastric upset or death. If the wrong food is given at the wrong time diarrhea is a common result. The animals in our care are already compromised in some way (that is why we have them in the first place) and their bodies can’t handle diarrhea on top of their other issues, so death is a common result of feeding the wrong food source at the wrong time.
Another question becomes; Do you know how much to feed them? We use complicated scientific calculations to calculate how much of what food source our wildlife need to eat to grow/develop normally or to recover from an injury.
Any website that gives you DIY information on injured/orphaned wildlife is by default wrong. It is illegal for people to have wildlife in their possession, so these websites are encouraging people to break the law. Aside from that there is no one-size-fits-all type of information I can give besides get the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as you can.
That is how you help injured and orphaned wildlife best. Make the time and take the time to get the animal the appropriate care as soon as you can. We need to make sure the animal in question is truly in need of care. We establish that by asking you questions. Please have patience with us, answer our questions and please do as we ask even if you don’t like it. We always have the wildlife’s best interest in mind and sometimes that means we have to hurt people’s feelings.
Only Authorized Wildlife Custodians are allowed to care for sick/injured/orphaned wildlife. Don’t get angry if we ask you to drive to us. We get hundreds of calls a day and we all operate on a non-for profit basis without any type of government funding. We simply don’t have the time or funds to drive and pick up each and every animal.
Help us by driving the animal out asap and maybe leave us with a donation towards the animal(s) you are asking us to care for if you can…and PLEASE DON’T FEED THEM
I have to get this of my chest. I can’t stop forming images in my head of Blanding’s Turtles walking down the road carrying all their worldly belongings in a suitcase as they make the epic journey down to the newly created wetland.
But wait a minute…it is not going to happen this way because we lack the skills to properly ‘notify’ the Blanding’s Turtles and other wildlife of the impending threat to their existence.
All silliness aside, I am referring to the recent proposal made to the provincial government by a major developer.
This developer would like to build a subdivision on a protected wetland area near Ottawa. This area is protected because it has Butternut trees (listed SARO endangered), Least Bitterns frequent it (listed SARO threatened) and Blanding’s Turtle’s live there(listed SARO Threatened).
In the proposal it states that the developer will create a wetland at an alternate location to ‘make up’ for the one that will be destroyed. That is great, but turtles are not exactly the serious migratory type…So despite the romanticized fairy tale I used earlier, in reality this means putting a subdivision on top of the Blanding’s Turtles…and destroying their habitat which will mean the majority (if not all) of the Blanding’s Turtles currently present in that wetland will die and it will also greatly effect the other herptiles who live in that wetland.
Granted female turtle’s will travel to lay eggs in a location that meets their criteria, but I can’t see how they can be motivated to move at mass to a newly created wetland within a time frame designated by a developer.
Turtle’s do everything slow…Look at them, they are modern day dinosaurs. Evolution can’t even make them hurry.
The proposal also request permission to remove 120 Butternut trees, but the remaining trees that are there will be fenced in so that they are protected…and they will collect seeds and replant seedlings…but 120 mature butternut trees will be destroyed…
The developer makes many suggestions in the proposal in an attempt to appear to minimize interference with the current SARO listed species present in this wetland, but a lot of those measures seem unrealistic and far fetched to me.
I can’t help but think…if a new wetland can be created in an alternate location…would it not be much simpler to build the subdivision in this alternate location and leave the existing wetland and the species it harbors alone?
We where recently contacted by a Humane Society in Ontario inquiring if we where able to take a Mink. I consented and that is how Charlie the little mink arrived at Hobbitstee.
Charlie’s story is unusual and sad in a way. Charlie is a juvenile mink who was released from a mink farm by animal rights activist. Due to disease risks (because he had actually left the farm) the farmer would not take Charlie back, so I agreed to give Charlie a home. This was an unusual decision on my part as we do not deal with domestic animals, but mink are considered native wildlife and so I agreed to give it a try. I did however state that I would only keep Charlie if his new life did not cause him to much stress.
Luckily Charlie is adapting fine and is showing stress free behavior. He is eating well and loves to play in his new enclosure. Plans are underway to build an enclosure with a build in swimming pool because mink are considered to be semi-aquatic. We will work with Charlie so that he will hopefully be able to serve as an Animal Ambassador for Hobbitstee and join us out and about when we do educational events. Charlie can help educate people about Mink and others in the weasel family and he will serve as a reminder as to why we as humans really need to think through our actions and the consequences of these actions.
Charlie was lucky, but many of the released mink will not be so lucky…
Mink are a native species of wildlife in Ontario, but are also kept in domestic settings for the production of fur coats. Setting personal feelings about the fur farming industry aside I will go out on a limb and speak out strongly against what these animal rights activists have done. These types of actions can potentially have devastating effects on our natural wildlife and cause harm to the animals directly involved.
By releasing hundreds of non-native mink amongst the native population of mink and other wildlife the natural balance gets upset. Mink are fierce little predators and there is only so much prey to go around. Habitat space can also become an issue. Never mind the chances of potential disease transfer or the introduction of non-native genetic strains into our wild population.
Aside from that the farmed mink have been bred in captivity for generation after generation. In doing so they have been domesticated. They have had their meals served in bowls their whole lives and for many generations. Many of the mink after having been ‘released’ simply returned to their cages when feeding time came around.
Not all of them did, some got run over on the road, some got eaten by predators and many will have starved to death by now because they do not know how to catch live prey like their wild counter parts.
I can not call this act by these animal rights activist anything other than cruelty to animals. The released mink who starved to death will certainly agree with me.
I have experience with handling wild mink and they are ferocious creatures who are very difficult to handle. Charlie is fond of having his belly rubbed and he will beg for every person who comes near him to do so. Not exactly behavior I have ever seen in wild mink. This is further to prove my point that farmed mink are domesticated.
Non of this is taking into account the hardship this caused to the farmer and his family who suffered serious financial losses as a result of these actions.
I understand that people might not agree with fur-farming, but you can only make a fundamental changes by educating the public about the ‘plight’ of these fur-farmed animals.
When there is no demand for the product, production will seize.
With the summer heat setting in we are all looking for a cool treat or drink. Iced coffee’s/caps, flurries, blizzard treats and such are favored by many, and all these have one thing in common…That little plastic lid with the big hole in it.
Those lids are turning out to be a huge challenge for our scavenging wildlife. Their heads will go in the cups, but when they pull out their heads they find these plastic lids stuck around their neck.
I am not exaggerating. It is a common occurrence and it can cause some serious issues. I have on many occasions been busy live trapping animals in such a predicament. The variety of wildlife that find themselves adorned with an ice cap necklace is surprising. It ranges from raccoons, skunks to opossums and even a squirrel who had one wrapped around his belly. Those lids are right up there with balloons, 6 pack plastic rings, fishing line and fishing lures for causing harm to wildlife.
As people we often do things such as release balloons to celebrate something. The balloons will return to the earth eventually and many cause harm to wildlife when they are ingested.
slightly of topic, but another issue I have is with the releasing of doves to celebrate weddings and such. I often get calls about sad looking white doves that are not doing well. That is what happens with those doves. They are domestic birds, raised in a domestic environment and they have no idea how to survive in the wild and they don’t belong in the wild. They are not a native species.
Those things are bad enough, but worse yet are the occurrences when someone does something seemingly innocuous like dumping some left over diesel/gasoline fuel down a catch basin. The dumped fuel proceeds to travel into a nearby creek and eventually ends up in one of our Great Lakes.
At Hobbitstee we have an oil rescue team on standby at all times and we have seen first hand the devastation these types of easily prevented spills causes in waterfowl and semi-aquatic mammals. It is heartbreaking to watch majestic swans succumb to respiratory issues as a result from inhaling fuel fumes or struggle to clean oiled geese or ducks.
I respectfully ask that as we enjoy the great outdoors this summer that we take care with our garbage. Garbage belongs in garbage cans. Garbage cans that need to be wildlife proof. Let’s dispose of dangerous goods the right way and not by polluting our creeks and lakes. And those balloons released at weddings or to send messages to loved ones in heaven can cause wildlife to suffer or die upon returning to the earth, so let’s come up with some better less polluting ways of conveying our joy or sadness.
I suggest and encourage the planting of native species of trees and/or plants to commemorate events and to remember loved ones who have passed.
Mid April I received a call from a concerned man who had a fox den underneath his deck. He was concerned because he had seen the vixen move 4 kits and he had not seen her since, but he could still hear kits underneath the deck.
I asked him to make sure not to be the disturbing factor that would scare of the vixen, but to very carefully keep an eye out for her. I also told him that as long as the kits stay in the den they are okay, but if they start coming out of the den as young as they where at that time there is a problem.
We kept in touch over the phone over the next two days until he called me and told me they where starting to come out of the den. I drove down immediately to go and have a look.
I am passionate about not making orphans where there aren’t any and sometimes mother animals are simply not seen when they go and spent time with their babies.
In this case the kits proved to be true orphans because they where weak, lethargic and dehydrated when I arrived. I retrieved 5 fox kits and brought them back home to Hobbitstee.
They where still pretty tiny and underweight. For the first while they received intensive care and stayed under neath their heat light. Handling with foxes is always at an absolute minimum because they are easily habituated to humans and that will get them killed as adults.
One did not recover from it’s dehydrated state and passed away, but the other 4 grew fast as they ate me out of house and home.
About a month after arriving we moved them to our outside enclosure. After this move the care was reduced to hands off only. That means that feeding was done while they slept (when possible) and all though I would catch the occasional glimpse of them playing and running around, they did not see much of me.
We needed to give them the opportunity to learn how to hunt their own meals and so we started introducing live mice into their enclosure. Mice are a staple in any wild fox diet.
Last Saturday it was finally time for these guys to return to an undisclosed location close to their point of origin.
The release went well and the location was perfect.
Often people ask me why I do what I do…This is why. I love the moments where I can release these animals back into their habitat knowing they have all the skills they need to survive. To me it feels like a job well done. It balances out the often brutal nature of wildlife rehabilation and it softens the sadness, frustration and heart aches that come with the job.
We now set our sites on raising the money to expand the fox enclosure so that we can do an even better job next year. We welcome all donations…(see our website at: http://www.hobbitstee.com to contribute)
All of us at Hobbitstee wish our 4 fox kits a happy life!
Last weekend I decided to combine business and pleasure. Two of the turtles at Hobbitstee where ready for release. One needed to be returned to Mildmay and the other to Tobemory.
We decided to combine business and pleasure and planned a weekend away so that we could enjoy the two gorgeous National Parks located near Tobemory. I rarely have time to do things like this, so I was very excited.
The first turtle release was amazing. That turtle had been at Hobbitstee since September of 2014 and he was in really bad shape when he arrived. He had returned to murky water after having been injured and he had a raging infection. I spent months battling this infection and it took everything and the kitchen sink to safe his life, but he made it and I released him back into the waters of his home.
The second turtle’s injuries where less serious, but it was still delightful to release her into a very nice wetland really close to the GSP coordinates given to me by the finder.
With both turtles released it was time for us to have some fun. Finding a campsite proved to be a bit of a challenge, but we managed. The next morning we started on the list of things we wanted to see and do. High on my list was Singing Sands because I had hopes of seeing a real life EMR. As the only venomous snake in Ontario they are really rare and an endangered species, but there is a somewhat healthy population on the Bruce Peninsula. My hopes where squashed rather quickly.
As soon as we arrived at Singing Sands I was horror struck. The tiny parking lot was milling with way to many people who all where trying to pile on a tiny stretch of beach and in the process they where actively trampling all the gorgeous orchids and other sensitive plant that grow there.
We walked down the boardwalk conveniently put there so you can enjoy the wetlands opposite the beach. Although I enjoyed seeing the unique flora and fauna I was once again disgusted with peoples behavior. Children left unsupervised where running around through the wetland away from the pathways and boardwalk to chase/catch frogs and in the process obliterating the delicate little orchids that grow there. I bit my tongue for as long as I could, but eventually had to tell the kids to stop doing that.
The throng of humanity present there seemed utterly oblivious of their surroundings. The surroundings that make Bruce National Park so unique. It left me feeling sad. I don’t understand how or why people go there and try their best to destroy what made them come there in the first place. My heart goes out to the Canada Parks staff who have to witness this carnage day after day.
It wasn’t long before I simply could not take it anymore and had to leave. I had to battle utter stupidity to make my way out of the parking lot. We had to forgo the other amazing sights of Tobemory due to the insane # of people waiting for the boats and swarming the hiking trails which really takes the fun out of it for me.
I am sad to say I could not leave Tobemory fast enough…
I write this to remind people to open their eyes and look around. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, but please enjoy the beauty of nature and try not to be an invasive presence in it. Teach your children to respect their surroundings and observe common sense such as staying on designated pathways so that you are not ruining the experience for the next person to come along or even generations to come.
I am seeing a trend this year. A very scary trend. It has to do with wildlife being kept in captivity. Something that is a violation under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act in Ontario. According to our laws you have 24 hours to get a wild animal help, but somehow the # of calls I get in regards to wildlife in captivity is on the rise.
Often I get told ‘I have seen this on tv, so I know what I am doing’ or ‘I have googled it, so I can do this’. I hope you can see how this does not make any sense. Caring for injured/orphaned wildlife is a delicate job. Many animals require medical care. Often by the time I receive animals people have ‘tried’ to help and the animals are suffering as a direct result of these attempts and some even die.
Also the zoonotic disease factor is often forgotten. No matter how cute the animal, many can carry diseases that can seriously harm humans
A website giving you detailed ‘DIY wildlife rehab’ information is by definition wrong. There is no ‘one guide fits all’ solution for wildlife rehab. It requires skills and years of experience.
A lady called me yesterday asking me to help her splint a broken wing on a gosling so that she could rehabilitate it. I tried to explain that things don’t work that way. That I will gladly care for the gosling and will deal with it’s broken wing, but she can’t keep it. I explained about human imprinting that will prevent this gosling from having a normal goose life etc. She never brought me the gosling…
This is just one of many examples. This animal needs medical care that the veterinarians I work with and myself can provide, but now it will go without and if the poor thing survives it will have bonded with humans instead of it’s own kind and will have no change of ever having a normal life.
I have said it before and will say it again. Having good intentions does not serve as an excuse. Cruelty to animals is cruelty to animals. If your dog gets hit by a car you take it to the vet, but somehow people feel a need to try and ‘fix’ wildlife themselves.
Orphaned wildlife needs to be raised by people who know what they are doing. People who keep the wild nature of the animal in mind and will understand what it needs to survive in the wild. Wildlife belongs in the wild, needs to be left wild. No human/wildlife interaction ever benefits wildlife…it always benefits humans.
I write this because it breaks my heart to see the well intended cruel acts people perpetrate on wildlife claiming to do the right thing. I wish people would use their energy to truly do good for wildlife. Things like protecting habitat, helping turtles safely cross a road or planting native plants and trees that benefit wildlife etc.
When people see images, videos or real life incidents of human habituated wildlife they often smile and think it is cute…I want to cry because it is unnatural behavior for such animals and it hurts me to see it.
I recently had the opportunity to have a discussion with Dr. Don Hoglund (More on Dr. Hoglund), a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and animal trainer extraordinaire. We discussed the battle we both wage on anthropomorphism (giving human thoughts and feelings to animals).
The discussion was related to that we humans have no idea what animals think. We can not read their thoughts. We don’t know if they are happy or sad, all we have to go on is natural behavior. We can in someways measure their health through blood tests etc and as a wildlife rehabilitator and farmer I look for natural behavior to judge how the animal in question is doing and that is all we have to go on.
I can not tell you how many times I have been on the receiving end of an animal in shock or worse and had the person bringing it out tell me it is fine because it is calm and quiet…It appears calm, but that is due to shock, not due to the fact that it is comfortable being cradled by humans.
Wildlife is per definition wild and needs to stay that way. I have made it my mission as an Authorized Wildlife Custodian to speak for the animals who can not speak for themselves. Understand that in that process I might hurt your feelings, this is nothing personal. It is merely an effort on my part to get you (people in general) to see the other side of things.
I am appreciative of every call I get where people ask me advice before they act. I love it when people call and say I just found an injured …(whatever the animal), can you take it. My answer is always yes. It is what we do here at Hobbitstee. It’s what we are good at…We appreciate it when people bring the animals to us. Wildlife rehabilitators receive no funding. Much of the expenses are paid out of pocket by me, so not having to drive helps me financially and saves me time.
In the last couple of days: Thank you lady from Ingersoll who found the turtle and thank you lady who found the itty-bitty baby bat. You are both awesome! Thank you lady who called about the fox kits she was worried about. Thank you for calling before acting!!!!
Every year we have done more and better with our turtle project. Last year we worked with several agencies and where successful in getting turtle crossing signs erected in a sensitive wetland area. We are continuing to work on getting more of these signs erected.
We successfully assisted a variety of injured turtles and we also hatched turtle eggs we recovered from a gravid turtle female killed on the road.
These hatchlings where recently released and in doing so we where able to somewhat reduce the genetic loss of the breeding age female who lost her life on her way to lay her eggs.
With some of the funding we received from Imperial Oil we where able to purchase a new incubator. Turtles mostly lay their eggs during the month of June, so we ask that if you see a recently deceased turtle during the month of June that you collect it for us (please wear gloves) and get it to us asap. We need the whole turtle and the exact location where the turtle was found. The dead turtle needs to be kept at what ever the temp is and should not be refrigerated. We are hoping to recover and hatch as many eggs as possible to help our ailing turtle population.
I know this is asking a lot, but we really need your help with this as we lack the funding, resources and man-power to drive all over to pick up dead turtles.
Keep in mind that we can not and will not touch (and neither should you) actual active nest sites no matter how inconvenient the location of those nests may be. Doing this would be a violation of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act as well as the Endangered Species Act. 7 out of the 8 species of turtles we have in ON are on the Endangered Species List.
As always we also ask you to be on the look out for turtles on the road. They need help crossing, but please don’t risk human lives in doing this. Make sure it is safe for you to pull over and get out of the car. Please cross turtles in the direction they are going and don’t move them to a different location or turn them around. They are purposely going somewhere and disrupting them is not helpful.
If you find an injured turtle we can help. Thanks to some of the Imperial Oil funding we will be able to rehab more turtles this year as we where able to add some much needed housing for larger turtles like Snapping Turtles. Please do not leave an injured turtle by the side of the road and do nothing. Call us, Call he local humane society, animal control or another wildlife facility. Our turtle population is declining and each specimen counts. Never transport a turtle in water (they might drown).
Even if the injuries on the turtle look really bad, please don’t just leave it to die a slow painful death. Turtles are able to recover from some really serious injuries, but if they can’t they deserve a humane end.
The turtle in the picture below was dropped off at a vet clinic. The vet in question was going to euthanize her because he thought the injuries where to serious. He opted to give us a call and we where able to help her make a full recovery.
Another problem turtles have to deal with is fishing hooks/lines. They get tangled in the discarded line and some of the larger turtles have a habit of swallowing baited hooks. Fishermen, please take your discarded line with you and please don’t just cut your line when you snag a turtle. Research has shown that prevalence of swallowed fishhooks increases with size.
This means that often it is Snapping Turtles who get hooked and in rare cases Spiny Softshell Turtles (only because the species it self is rare). Snapping Turtles are listed as special concern and the Spiny Softshell Turtles as threatened on the endangered species list.
Removing a fishhook from a large Turtle is not an easy thing, but I would still urge you not to simply cut your line as that could mean a long and slow death sentence for the turtle.
Luckily the fisherman who caught the Spiny Softshell in the picture knew what to do and she was helped by Dr. Sweetman from the Downtown Vet Clinic in Windsor. He surgically removed the hook and she made a full recovery.
If the hook is swallowed and you are willing to take a change you can get the Turtle to bite down on a stick and use curved pliers to remove the hook by bending it back the same way it went in, but keep in mind that a Turtle neck can stretch a long way and that a bite can result in a serious injury.
The best way to hold a Snapping turtle is with one hand under its carapace (bottom shell) and using the tail to stabilize the turtle. Never pick a Snapping Turtle up by it’s tail as this can actually cause spinal injuries and causes a great deal of pain to the turtle.
If you need to transport a turtle a good size plastic tote or other type of box will do. Never transport a turtle in water (they may drown), make sure that there is air holes and that the turtle can’t tip the box or push the lid of.
If you can’t get the hook out because it is to deeply embedded or the turtle is uncooperative never hesitate to contact an Authorized Wildlife Custodian near you. We have the skills, tools and resources to deal with cases like this.
And lastly..we need funds to expand our turtle project. $350 buys us another incubator (and yes we need a couple more), $500 buys a Snapping Turtle Enclosure and $100 buys an enclosure for a smaller turtle. These are all things we will use for many years to come. $1000 buys the medication to take care of one injured Snapping Turtle, $45 buys and x-ray, $10 will feed a turtle for a day, so as you can see all donations count. In return for your donations we will send you a tax receipt and you will have the satisfaction in knowing you made a difference.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. email@example.com or 519 587 2980