Sunday, September 15, 2013

Princess the Raccoon is Given a Second Chance

Many raccoons have come to the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary this summer, but there was one that stood out from all the rest. Based on the information given to us by the person who brought it in, this raccoon was about six weeks old. At this age, a healthy raccoon is fully furred, the markings are becoming more distinct, and the raccoon will begin to eat solid food. However, this raccoon, named Princess, was practically hairless, had a belly about the size of a grapefruit, suffered from diarrhea, and rarely stopped crying out. 
Healthy raccoon on the left, Princess is on the right on top of the stuffed animal.

Most of these symptoms were caused by malnutrition. It turned out that the person who found Princess kept her for about a month. Princess is just one example of why it is important to take any injured, ill, or orphaned wildlife to a wildlife sanctuary or licensed rehabilitator where there are people that are trained and licensed to take care of them. Trained rehabbers know how to properly take care of wildlife and raise them in order to prepare them to be released successfully back into the wild.

Malnutrition is not the only challenge for untrained/unlicensed people who keep wildlife. Caring for wildlife can be risky due to the possibility of transmitting diseases, such as rabies and parasites. Plus, there is always the chance that the animal could become imprinted or habituated if it is not around others of its own kind. Also, it is actually illegal to keep wildlife for more than 24 hours. This time is supposed to be spent finding a wildlife sanctuary or rehabilitator to take the animal to.  Although people may think they are helping the injured, orphaned, or ill wildlife that they find, keeping the animals to raise on their own can do more bad than good.

The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary is here to not only provide a place for animals that need a second chance, but to also help others help wildlife! If you want to become a wildlife rehabilitator, the best way to start is by volunteering with a local facility or rehabber-- they would appreciate the help! Contact your state Department of Natural Resources wildlife rehabilitation liaison and find out how you can start the work of obtaining your own license as well! The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary offers volunteer opportunities and internships in the wildlife rehabilitation/animal care department. BBWLS also has a training for interested wildlife rehabilitators every March! Watch for the date on our website and help us give critters like Princess a second chance!

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