Where Are They Now? CWC Edition!

Many of our past volunteers and interns go on to do incredible things with their lives and career paths. We are always sad to see them leave, but we know that their experiences at Chintimini Wildlife Center helped pave the way to where they are today, and we are so grateful for what they contributed to our Center while they were here!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brianna Hinricher (aka Bree!), a past volunteer from our Raptor Education Program.

Bree played a vital role in our education program – she dedicated two-and-a-half years to our program as a Raptor Trainer. She was an excellent caretaker and a phenomenal educator. Her passion for sharing her knowledge and her positive outlook was contagious. Here are a few photos of Bree from her time at CWC:

Bree is currently an Education Keeper at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park in Arizona. They provide three educational shows a day for the public with their animal ambassadors. They also do three lorikeet feedings a day with the public.

I do get to work with a very handsome King Vulture (and we will hopefully get more birds of prey in the future). I also work with other bird species, mammals and reptiles! Besides the daily shows and feedings, my day also entails cleaning and feeding all of our ambassador animals as well as doing training sessions with them. Just recently we received a baby prehensile-tailed porcupine, who is just now about 2 months old and will one day be in our shows!

Here are some current pictures of Bree working as an Education Keeper in Arizona:

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We are thrilled for you, Bree!

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Meet the Interns! Winter 2019

We have five incredible wildlife rehabilitation interns this term that we’d like you to meet. Each of them brings enthusiasm, dedication, and knowledge – we are so glad to have them with us!

 

Emilee

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Emilee is from Clackamas, Oregon and has been attending Oregon State University since 2014. She is currently finishing out her bachelor of science degree with a major in Zoology and minor in Chemistry and will be graduating in June of 2019. She has had previous experience with being a carnivore keeper for 2 years working with tigers, lions, leopards, servals, lynx and much more. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching Netflix, baking and hanging out with her cat, Gerald, and her boyfriend. Emilee is excited for the opportunity to be a wildlife rehabilitation intern here at Chintimini Wildlife Center as well as gaining new knowledge and skills!

Annabelle

IMG_4335Annabelle is a 4th year undergraduate student at Oregon State University. She will be graduating with a bachelor of science in Biology with a Chemistry minor in the spring of 2019. She starts classes at the OSU Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine in the fall of 2019 and will graduate in 2023 with a DVM degree. When not studying or working, she loves riding horses, rock climbing at Smith Rock, and skiing. She’s almost always in the company of her dog, Poke. Annabelle is grateful for the opportunity to learn from experts at Chintimini Wildlife Center for the duration of winter term.

 

Ashlee

IMG_3520Ashlee grew up in Arizona and recently moved to Oregon in the last year to finish her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Oregon State University. She has enjoyed discovering everything Oregon has to offer over the last year, including its wildlife! She started out as a volunteer and when the intern positions were posted, she jumped at the opportunity. She will be applying to Oregon State University to pursue her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and hopes to continue to volunteer at Chintimini Wildlife Center after her internship comes to an end. When she’s not at Chintimini she enjoys going on road trips to discover new places, working on a cross stitch project, baking something yummy and spending time with her two cats.

Spenser

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Spenser joined the Chintimini team 3 years ago; He began his journey with us as a volunteer on Saturday mornings, and last year he was asked to join our team of shift leaders. In addition to his shift leader role he is now a wildlife rehab intern for the winter term. Spenser spends 3 days a week at CWC and is passionate and dedicated to helping our local wildlife.

 

 

Desirée

IMG_2999Desirée is earning her bachelor of science degree in Animal Science & Spanish with a pre-vet track at OSU. She is completing a year-long wildlife rehab internship with Chintimini Wildlife Center and continues to volunteer her time in our clinic as well. In her downtime, she loves to travel, ride horses, and practice aikido.

Season of Raptors

If there’s one thing that’s certain in the field of wildlife rehabilitation, it’s that there’s a time and a season for everything. As unpredictable as wildlife rehab can be, it’s accurate to say that we can expect to see certain types of patients arrive at roughly the same time each year.

Spring and summer mark the “busy season” for most wildlife rehabilitation centers. Enclosures are at capacity, there are hungry orphaned mouths to feed from sun-up to sun-down. Autumn is when we look forward to our raccoon releases, our migratory bird releases, and the start of winding down the chaos. And then, like clouds parting after a storm, winter arrives. Suddenly the patient load is at a glorious minimum, there’s time to take a real lunch break, and the big projects that are put off during busy season get crossed off the to-do list.

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An emaciated owl receives subcutaneous fluids placed in the bird’s inguinal region

Winter is also a time where we tend to see an influx of two common types of patients: the emaciated raptor, and the collision with vehicle raptor. We see a lot of trauma in patients this time of year, due to the nature of winter itself. Food is scarce, visibility is oftentimes low for drivers, and people are generally not “out and about” as much (and are less likely to come across an animal in need).

This is the time of year when many first-year raptors (for example, a young Red-tailed Hawk) haven’t honed in on their hunting skills and, combined with colder weather and less prey availability, end up starving. Some will feed on roadside carrion, thus increasing the risk of being struck by a vehicle.

Some emaciated or severely injured raptors come to us too critical to survive or are beyond surgical repair and are humanely euthanized. While we are saddened, we are also grateful to aid in the relief of their suffering. Others come to us just in time, and with fluid therapy, followed by a specialized tube-fed diet, they slowly mend and recover. These success stories are truly remarkable!

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A Barn Owl recovering from emaciation receives fluid therapy via feeding tube

How can you help?

  • If you see a bird of prey on the ground, and something seems “off,” it probably is. If you begin to approach it and it doesn’t fly away, it likely needs to be examined by a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • If you pass a hawk or eagle on the side of the road, don’t assume it is injured. Sometimes these birds are picking at roadkill and are simply finishing up a meal. If it’s safe and you are able, you can always turn around to get a better look at the situation to determine if the bird is indeed injured.
  • If you are unable to check things out, please make a mental note of the location (cross streets, mile post markers, which side of the road, etc.) and call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to report the bird when you are able to park your vehicle – there may be other calls in about the same bird, and your report will help rehab staff know what to do!
  • Any raptor with obvious injuries needs to be brought to a wildlife center for examination. Please call your nearest licensed rehabilitator for instructions on how to proceed.
  • Drive with care – just as you are aware of other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, please keep an eye out for birds on the road who might be looking for their next meal. While not every accident can be avoided, we can all do our part by being more alert and aware to the wildlife learning to navigate the world alongside us.

Erika Seirup, Animal Care Assistant

A Summer Internship

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Sarah Duke, Wildlife Rehab Intern 2018

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Internship at Chintimini Wildlife Center was one of the best ways I could have chosen to spend my summer. I am currently a pre-veterinary student at Oregon State University, and am leaning toward a wildlife medicine specialty. Interning at Chintimini has allowed me to both solidify my interests and gain extensive wildlife experience. The summer internship itself has a strong focus on baby mammal care (adorable, I know) but also introduces avian care. The emphasis of the program really is on care, which is quite unique to most animal-related internships. Although we did plenty of cleaning, a significant portion of the work incorporated mammal handling. For instance, my first day as an intern was spent learning to properly handle and bottle-feed a room full of juvenile raccoons. Listening to a group of singing (or screeching, as some may say) raccoons was never on my bucket list, but I’m certainly glad I got to attend their concerts! That was one of the most memorable adventures I’ve had yet.

Interns at Chintimini work closely with the staff members; I particularly enjoyed this aspect of the program for two reasons. First, the staff members are amazing people who truly care about the welfare of the animals that come into the clinic. They are all so dedicated to the center, which makes working with and learning from them a pleasure. Second, they are phenomenal teachers with an extremely impressive knowledge set. Interacting with wild animals can be daunting at times, but the staff members ease interns into new situations and always make sure they’re comfortable completing assigned tasks. In addition to learning to care for orphaned and injured animals, I also learned a great deal about the way animals live in the wild and which animals are common in Oregon. For instance, I was surprised to learn that it is nearly impossible for bats to take flight from the ground; most need to be upside down and drop a couple of feet before they can do so. I also learned to identify and differentiate between many types of birds and mammals, which was one of my goals when starting the program.

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Intern Sarah, bottle-feeding a baby raccoon

 

Although I loved working with the animals at Chintimini, one of my favorite parts was seeing them leave. Watching an animal recover, or in the case of orphaned animals, mature, is incredibly satisfying. Wildlife conservation is such an important cause, and being able to see the impact of everyone’s hard work is unbelievably special and rewarding. It truly motivates you to keep caring and to keep helping! As an intern, you get to see the difference you are making first-hand. It’s a win-win situation, because you get to broaden your skillset and make a positive impact on local wildlife. My first release was a small flock of crows; watching them fly away and perch in the nearby greenery was spectacular. I would absolutely recommend this internship to anyone seeking a gratifying, informative experience concerning local Oregon wildlife.

– Sarah Duke

Not Just For The Glamour of The Job

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It might be easy to think of wildlife rehabilitation as a “glamorous” job. Who wouldn’t want to take care of cute, orphaned squirrels? Or tiny, hungry raccoon kits? Photos of fuzzy, eyes-closed baby mammals being cuddled by humans pop up on social media from time to time – or maybe you’ve come across videos of spotted fawns being bottle-fed by someone. What you don’t get to see, is what we really do (or don’t do!) For instance, we don’t cuddle with wild animals, no matter how cute they are, because our job as rehabilitators is to prepare them for survival in the wild once they are released. An animal that is habituated to humans, or imprinted to them, is at greater risk of death in the wild and cannot be released.

You also don’t get to see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Diet preparation is not for the faint of heart, especially when it comes to preparing diets for our carnivore patients. And what goes in, must eventually come out, right? There is plenty of smelly poop to clean up multiple times a day. It is a sun-up to sun-down job. And most importantly, there are licensing and permitting laws that must be adhered to.

Friday PM Shift Leader, Claudia Benfield, writes about some of her less-than-glamorous experiences working with wildlife patients:

I wanted to write about different facets of what rehabilitating wildlife can be like…one week I was holding a baby squirrel in my hands during its examination. It was so tiny, it fit exactly in my hands. It had fly larvae in its mouth and we had to get them all out. The larvae were about the size of the head of a pin. I kept the squirrel warm in my hands while it made sweet sounds.  It was so precious, my heart could have burst. (But guys. Fly larvae.)

I have fed countless baby birds.  It is always so much fun when you open the door and all of their little heads pop up and they open their mouths ready to have their next meal. My favorite are the crows. They are so smart and so cute when they are young. They have such great personalities – but we must not be too friendly with them so they don’t imprint on us. But inside my heart and mind, I am bonding with them and enjoying helping them out.

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Now we get to the not-so-glamorous part of this job.  In the recent months we have been able to release all of the orphaned raccoons that we were caring for over the spring and summer.  We had three enclosures of them and two were now empty. When this happens someone has to do the final clean up and sanitization. It just so happened that my shift was to do this clean up.  I had another volunteer help me out. I would like for you to keep in mind that all of our dedicated volunteers work hard to maintain a clean environment while they are there. And still, since they are wild animals they always manage to keep their enclosures very well “lived in.”

But oh, the final clean up.  It is a very nasty job. I can’t help but notice that even then, they keep their messes to one spot in the enclosure.  They are clean animals in their own way but they belong in the wild for a reason. They really do need to be free where they can maintain their own homes as they like them to be. This night of clean up, there was hay everywhere, hammocks, logs and dog houses to be taken out for clean up so that the enclosure could be pressure washed later.  Everything was wet and soggy. There is also a drain for the water which was all clogged up that we needed to get cleaned out. (I am sure you can imagine what was clogging the drain…) Some of it seeped into my glove as I worked to unclog it.  At one point I stepped back and into the drain with my left foot and got that wet and nasty too. At that point, I really wanted to go home and get a brillo pad and shower in boiling water!

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I have cleaned Bald Eagle enclosures as well; it’s a not-so-fun part of the job but it is still an honor just to be able to be in the same area as they are. So in short, yes we do get to feed and hold some very cool animals at times.  But the work is hard and we must deal with some really yucky stuff. It is all worth it to us though because in the end, if we get to see them be free once again, that is what this work is all about.  So this work of rehabilitating wildlife is not just for the glamour of it.

Even though it can be very hard work, it is also the most rewarding work that there is…

– Claudia Benfield, Friday PM Shift Leader

Wildlife Rehabilitation Internship Experience

Now that our summer internships have come to an end and the interns have had time to reflect on their experiences, some of them have offered to write about their time spent at CWC. Our first blog post is written by Cassidy West. After completing her internship, she went on to become a Shift Leader volunteer for our Sunday PM crew! We’re so happy to have her on board and are excited to share her thoughts with you.

Intern, Cassidy West
Summer 2018 Wildlife Intern, Cassidy West

Where do I begin to describe my experience as an intern at a wildlife center? I guess from the beginning. When I first found out that I was getting the opportunity to begin this internship I literally jumped for joy. I was beyond excited that I got accepted and would be able to pursue a passion that I have had since a young age. As the day grew closer to begin, I started to feel the nervousness, and it was amplified even more after my first day. I felt so clueless and confused in every situation, terrified to make a mistake. The next day got easier, and the day after that even easier, and so on. When I finally hit a groove of comfortability, that’s when my love for the wildlife center really grew. I was able to ask questions, in any setting, and was shown proper ways to perform wildlife rehabilitation. I learned skills quickly and efficiently, and was able to practice different techniques with amazing guide and care.

I didn’t feel like the typical intern that you hear about in stories. I wasn’t shoved to the back and forced to do all the dirty work no one wanted to do (only every now and then). I was guided, and felt very taken under the wing by Mary and the rest of rehabilitation staff. They were always very patient and understanding, and never once made me feel dumb for not knowing how to tube feed, prepare diets, or even catch a bird. It was with their patience that I learned, and I mean really learned. I learned more about animal care in three months than I have in two years at college while pursuing a bachelors degree in Zoology. I definitely made some mistakes, but I learned from all of them.

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Cassidy, tong-feeding two newly-hatched Barn Owlets

The whole vibe of the wildlife center is a busy relaxed feel; an oxymoron I know, but there is no better way to describe it than with an oxymoron. It’s a place where animals are given second chances, life and death happen daily (oxymoron as well). A close friend of mine asked me one afternoon after finishing a shift at the wildlife center if it was hard to see the animals be humanely put down. This was something I was worried about when I started. I love animals and always cry in movies when they die, or anything of the sort. But this was something entirely different – I told them no, the hardest part is when you’re not given the chance to help them cross that big ol’ rainbow bridge. I’d much rather see an animal brought in and be put to rest in a nice cozy blanket and room, than die alone and cold, in a box or the outdoors. This was a huge epiphany and learning experience for me.

It was such a fast paced environment that you could never sit down, and I loved it. Nothing speaks to me more than a hard day of work. There’s something to be said about being able to stay busy all day. And the wildlife center, in the peak of summer, is the best place to be to stay busy. I remember feeding raccoons for the first time, and everyone warning me how scary it can be, and it’s “okay” if I didn’t want to. I was prepared for the screaming they warned me about, but when I entered the room they were being rehabilitated in I couldn’t help but laugh. Around twenty-five raccoons in different cages were climbing ALL OVER the cage. It was the cutest and funniest thing I could have ever seen, and their little yells of excitement to get food had me smiling ear to ear. It was in that moment I knew I was pursuing the right profession.

Although, a close second would be feeding the flying squirrels. I discovered at this internship that flying squirrels are my favorite animals.

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Cassidy, Bottle-feeding a baby Raccoon

Overall, this internship has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I could not be more thankful to the Chintimini Wildlife Center for giving me the opportunity to learn and pursue a lifelong passion. I learned much more about saving animals and wildlife rehabilitation than I ever thought I would have. It’s all tools that will be helpful in the future, but I think the thing Chintimini taught me best was:

Those who wish to pet and baby wildlife love them, but those who respect their natures and wish to let them live their natural lives, love them more.”

-Edwin Way Teale

 

The Dea Enigma

Dea is a Red-tailed Hawk ambassador for our Raptor Education Program. One of her handlers, an REP volunteer named Erin, wrote a poem about Dea. We’d like to share it with you!

Enigma, by definition, means “a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.” A paradox. A riddle. A mystery. 

Dea Tuesday

The Dea Enigma

5 years and childhood dreams.

I’m finally here, officially a trainee.

“I love you,” I tell her.

She bites me.

 

It’s not what I expected,

But I’d have it no other way.

This bird is in my life,

And she’s here to stay.

 

It’s a rotation of faces,

A thousand questions too –

The visitors all change,

But Dea is true.

 

Her presence may be steady

But her matter is not.

She’s as moody as the wind blows,

And as fussy as I am besot.

 

“Station,” I cue.

I’ve lost her attention.

“Station?” I plead.

She’s abandoned her ascension.

 

And so it’s quail and rat,

A cycle of training.

She gets her enrichment,

And I continue begging.

 

She’s a good bird,

She’s the best!

Handlers have their favorites,

And our scars can attest.

 

Some enjoy vultures

And some prefer others.

But when I hit the mews

It’s a red tail I garner.

 

When working with birds

Lay down all stigma.

For when you’re handling Dea,

You’re handling an enigma.

-Erin Sackett received_2003548976345018