Wildlife rescue keeps many rehabilitation centers in the Upper Peninsula busy throughout the year.
The animals they receive come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are injured.
Others are kept as pets for short time, but as they get older they a lot more responsibility and not as easy to handle, causing their temporary caretakers to leave them out in the cold. There are even cases where passersby assume they have been abandoned by their family and scoop them up for safe keeping. Although they may believe they are saving an orphaned animal, they’re actually taking them out of their natural mother’s care.
U.P. Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator Gloria Urban has been rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife for fourteen years. She said she rescues just about everything: raccoons, coyotes, red foxes, and even squirrels. Outside of injured animals, seventy percent of the calls they receive end in rehabilitators advising the concerned citizen to leave the animal where it is.
“The people who find these animals really want someplace good for them to go, they don’t want to be told to just put it back and sometimes put it back is the right advice. Coming from a rehabber we can tell them why they should put it back,” Urban said.
Most of the time, the animals have been temporarily separated from their families.
Urban said if you remove it from its habitat, you are essentially making it an orphan. But that still leaves 30% who need saving–a task Urban considers her one true passion.
“I raise them in the house when it is cold then move them out to the porch where they spend their juvenile time,” she said. “When they are ready to go, I have a release house that has a release hatch that I can open and they can come and go when they are ready to be released and I always have food for them, so they can release themselves. I’ve been attached to all of them but it is a joy to see them go.”
If you do run across an injured or orphaned animal, you can call the U.P. Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at (906) 361-3140 or michigan.gov/wildlifepermits to find a licensed rehabilitation rehabilitation center in a county near you.