Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – July 5, 2022
One of the best parts of our job at Liberty Wildlife is releasing an animal back into the wild…allowing it to regain its freedom temporarily lost through no fault of its own. Coincidentally, this goes into full steam about this time each year, right around the Fourth of July, which is all about freedom and independence.
The ‘high’ we get from the releases we do never gets old. I repeat…it never gets old. I have done a lot of releases in my many years at this. And I always notice the double high when a person, other than me, gets to participate in the release. It is just a magical thing.
It all starts, however, with YOU! You are the caring person who took the time to notice a creature needing a hand…you were there. You were the one who took the time to locate assistance, took the time to retrieve the animal, box it, and took the time to bring it to us for help.
Once here, the frightened and compromised animal starts the process to healing and freedom. I can’t imagine, none of us can, what goes on in their heads as they are moved from the Intake Window to the Triage room, to the ICU. Skilled hands evaluate the situation and prescribe a protocol to expedite the ultimate goal. It moves from station to station in the process of healing. It must be very frightening…going from freedom to loss of freedom, fright, and resignation.
It is medicated, gets surgery if necessary, is splinted, or just allowed to mature. Sometimes it is in captivity for days. Other times it is with us for months. It all depends of the severity of its condition….the condition that usurps its freedom. I can’t imagine that it ever gets used to the “elements of care that it needs” but in most there appears to be a resignation.
That resignation is what makes the release so much more powerful. When the time comes, the final evaluation occurs, the animal is boxed and driven to the point of freedom. It must just be “crazy time” for these animals.
Ideally, the release site is best where the animal came from. Depending on how long it has been in captivity, the original site is crucial as a mate may be waiting. It helps to put an animal back in an area where it is accustomed to the food and water sources. Fledglings, of course, will get booted out of the natal territory eventually so they are a little bit more flexible…but nearby with an easy source of food and water helps the inexperienced young animal make its way in its new found freedom.
Then comes the release. And, for many of our early spring arrivals, the time is about now…July 4th, Independence Day, a day of flag waving and red, white, and blue. The boxed animal is heading toward another unknown part of the process. For a bird, the opening of the box allowing a moment of orientation, sets the scene. It sees the wild blue yonder, and off it goes to freedom. It probably had given up hope as the process can’t be explained to it…but it is hard wired when allowed, to cut through the air capturing the freedom that it soundly deserves…freedom lost through no fault of its own. Can you see my little red, white, and blue flags waving?
Being part of freeing something just feels good. Having done this so many times, I can look at the Fourth of July with practiced eyes. I hope everyone gets a chance to be a part of insuring another’s freedoms and independence….for the benefit of all of us.
This Week @ Liberty – July 5, 2022
Monsoon season is officially here in Phoenix. As someone who grew up in Louisiana with the humid, rainy summers, these Arizona storms seem more wind and dust than actual rain. But, the rain has come. According to KTAR news, we have totaled 1.7 inches of rain so far this monsoon season, more than the previous two monsoon seasons combined, and we still have a few months to go. Hopefully, we’ll continue to get a few more summer storms this season. The Valley could certainly use the extra water!
During our “vet night” on Saturday, our volunteer vets and vet students examined two raptors who had both been shot. The first was a great horned owl with a compound fracture to its wing. There was no pellet found, but the X-ray revealed metal fragments around the fracture. The condition of the fracture meant we couldn’t surgically pin it, so the wing was wrapped so the bone could heal in place.
The second was a red-tailed hawk, also with a broken wing. With this patient, you can see the gunshot wound and a pellet was visible in the X-ray. Luckily, the pellet didn’t damage any of the major internal organs. The wing was wrapped and the prognosis for this hawk is good.
There’s a Snake in the Henhouse!
This past week we had a visitor to the new Orphan Care annex. Sometime in the early morning, a red racer snake (a type of coachwhip) made its way to the annex. No doubt it was looking for a free meal. Thankfully, the way our annex is designed prevented the snake from being able to get to the birds. One of the Orphan Care volunteers who was working in the annex at the time donned some gloves and safely relocated this beautiful reptile to another part of the facility.
This weekend we had a baby raccoon brought in that had been separated from its parents. Our medical team put her age at about 3 weeks. Upon assessing her, we found that she had a few superficial wounds on her back, but nothing serious. She just needs to be raised, then released back into the wild where she belongs!
Our facility doesn’t have the space to properly raise mammals for an extended period of time, so the little raccoon was transferred to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. There, she will be bottle-fed until she is old enough to self-feed. From there, she will be put in the “baby trailer” with other younglings of the same age. Then they are moved to larger enclosures with other raccoons until they are ready to be released. Before release, they are vaccinated and dewormed to improve their chances in the wild.
Posted by Nathan Thrash
Public Outreach Coordinator