Tags: Geneva Linn
July 15, 2014 | 02:33 PMGENEVA — There is no typical day at the Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital in the town of Geneva.
Yvonne Wallace Blane, co-founder and director of rehabilitation, said most days the hospital opens at 7 a.m.
Some days, the staff is at the hospital until midnight.
It just depends on what animals were brought in for help.
Wallace Blane said this is a busy season for the hospital.
“We get most of our animals brought in during the summer,” she said.
“This year, we have six interns for the summer. They’re doing the feedings and other work.”
The hospital is currently home to song birds, geese, ducks, owls, beavers, rabbits and squirrels.
The hospital even takes in injured deer for rehabilitation.
“We can’t really give public tours,” Wallace Blane said. “Seeing and hearing humans all the time would make the animals tame.”
Fellow Mortals is not a zoo, she said.
The staff limits human interaction and talking around the animals because they try to integrate as many animals as possible back into the wild.
To ensure wild animals stay wild, Wallace Blane said the hospital creates families.
“We never raise an animal alone,” she said.
“We pair up our animals, creating families. When an animal is around other wild animals of its species, they stay wild.”
So the squirrels are in large cages with other squirrels. And the birds have “foster parents.”
“Some of our animals can’t be released into the wild,” Wallace Blane said. “They become foster parents to new animals. We have about 40 foster birds.”
A few geese and ducks are very protective of their foster children, young goslings and ducklings brought in to the hospital.
These birds are housed in the hospital’s new waterfowl lodge.
Wallace Blane said the hospital needed the wet space to raise the animals.
“Because of the nature of the area we live in, with the lakes, we see a lot of these waterfowl brought in,” she said.
A foster parent beaver is also housed in the water area of the hospital, and soon she’ll have a foster child to bond with.
Wallace Blane said beavers are very smart and social creatures.
When she opened the door to the beaver’s room, the beaver immediately dropped her food and started walking toward the door.
The hospital also has some permanent animals.
Three rabbits and a few birds were already domesticated when they were brought to the hospital.
While some tame animals can be “untamed” and reintroduced into the wild, birds imprint on humans.
Imprinting, Wallace Blane said, isn’t reversible.
After the feedings, when animals are well-enough to be released into the wild, Wallace Blane said many of the birds are released on the site of the hospital.
“We have a good habitat here for them,” she said.
In fact, the lot on Palmer Road is filled with song birds — blue jays, cardinals, robins and sparrows ate at a bird feeder behind Wallace Blane’s house. She and her husband, Steve, live across a short driveway from the hospital.
“I don’t think if we hadn’t moved here, the hospital could have,” she said of the site.
Both Wallace Blane and her husband have been licensed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1988.
“If I wasn’t doing something with animals...” Wallace Blane paused to think. “I don’t know. I’d still be doing something with animals.”
If you find an injured animal
Wallace Blane said if an animal is injured and a person can get close to it, the animal needs help.
“Cover it with a laundry basket,” she said. “That will protect it from other animals.”
She said to always wear gloves, not only to protect the person handling the animal, but to protect the animal as well. If an animal bites a person, the animal needs to be taken to the Wisconsin Humane Society.
The Fellow Mortals staff is not allowed to handle those cases. If it’s a raptor or other bird of prey, Wallace Blane said to throw a blanket on it.
This will cause the bird to grab the blanket and reduce chances of injury. After the animal is secured, she said to call Fellow Mortals.
“Every case is different,” she said.
“Many times we get a call about a nest of baby rabbits. Well, are they injured? Has it been a long time since the mother returned? There are so many different variables to each case. You can’t give out standard procedures.”
Wallace Blane said there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet.
“For example, it’s not true that a rabbit won’t come back to baby rabbits if you touch them,” she said.
“But the human smell does attract other predators to the site. Before someone touched those rabbits, the smell wasn’t familiar to dogs or coyotes. Now that you’ve touched them, the dog or the coyote knows the smell.”
In any situation, Wallace Blane advises to keep an injured animal warm.
“An animal in shock needs warmth and fluids,” she said.
“If there’s no heating pad, what about a water bottle filled with warm water and put in a sock? That will work.”
Wallace Blane said every animal is important, even the squirrels.
“People who are interested in wildlife don’t think about ‘nuisance animals,’” she said.
“People associate with the bigs things, but every animal is important. Without some of the scavengers, disease would be rampant. Who would come clean up the carcass on the road? I’m just amazed by nature. Without the small animals, we wouldn’t have the hawks. There are balances in nature that we shouldn’t mess with.”