At the Wildlife Center, we like to think every day is Earth Day! In our daily activities of repairing and rehabilitating wild animals and educating the public on coexisting with wildlife, we hope to have a positive impact on not only one individual animal but on the population of wildlife as well. A healthy ecosystem relies on a healthy wildlife population and vice versa. So many of the animals we see at the Wildlife Center play crucial roles in the health of our environment -- vultures, bats, and opossums just to name a few!
Wildlife Center of Virginia Blog
Sitting down to write this blog, I perused the published posts from other staff, interns, and externs, pondering what I might think is important enough to share with you all. Drawing a blank, as most people do when put on the spot to write something momentous, naturally I stalled and clicked on the WordPress website. I was greeted with a quote at the head of the website;
Before my rehab externship at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I had no experience with birds of prey. Consequently, I was apprehensive and nervous around them for my first few weeks! The first time I walked into Buttercup’s enclosure (Buttercup is a Black Vulture and one of WCV’s education ambassadors) the extern who was training me said, “Be careful, he usually tries to attack you when you walk out.” He was politely sitting on his perch but when I turned to leave his enclosure after delivering his dinner, he started chasing me.
1. “Jaz hates me.”
One of the highlights of my rehab externship was participating in the two fawn round-ups. The Wildlife Center of Virginia is one of the few facilities in the state that will rehabilitate white-tailed deer fawns. There are two separate deer yards at the Wildlife Center; each yard holds about 15 fawns. By the time I arrived at the Center for my externship, the fawns were no longer being hand-fed but were being bottle-fed formula in racks located within their enclosure.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have always been passionate about working and engaging with various animals through hands-on interaction. While attending the University of Rhode Island (URI), I gained multiple opportunities that broadened my horizons as a conservation and wildlife student. I spent time capturing woodcocks in mist nests, banding various songbirds at the local banding station, assisting at a deer check station, interning with the herpetology department as a research apprentice, and building covering pens on the New England cottontail project.
Coming to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I had a strong passion for the environment and a love for marine life. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and learn more about the animals I’m surrounded by every day and how they may need my help. I had a lot of experience in education but hardly any in animal care, so I knew I was in for a treat.
I came to the Wildlife Center of Virginia with one clear goal in mind: to figure out if wildlife rehabilitation is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have never had a definitive idea of I wanted to do as a career … even after switching majors four times in college and graduating with a B.S. in biology, I’m still not sure what path to follow.
Throughout my three months at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in the summer of 2016, I noticed that the sounds of ICU changed with the seasons. During my first few weeks, the sound of cheeping, hungry, and impatient baby birds created its own odd harmony. When I left the Center in mid-September, the squirrels chattered away to each other in a not-so-melodic fashion. However, some patients sound tremendously different than the cacophony of background noise that typically fills the room.
Time sure does fly. Three months ago, I moved into the student house and started my first day at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Today, my wildlife rehabilitation externship has come to an end. As I pack up my bags and say my goodbyes, I reflect on the rewarding and challenging experience this was. Allow me to delve into some of the highlights.