Call of the Wild Conference

November 11-13, 2016

The Wildlife Center of Virginia invites you to the 21st annual Call of the Wild conference on wildlife rehabilitation. Wildlife rehabilitators, veterinary professionals, wildlife biologists, environmental educators, and wildlife enthusiasts from Virginia and beyond will share ideas and knowledge that can benefit wildlife, the environment, and the continually evolving field of wildlife rehabilitation. 

The conference is sponsored by the Wildlife Center of Virginia, one of the nation’s leading teaching and research hospitals for native wildlife, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The Call of the Wild conference will be held at Best Western Inn & Suites Conference Center in Waynesboro, VA, conveniently located off of Interstate 64 at Exit 94.

This is an excellent learning opportunity for rehabilitators of all skill levels — and a chance for you to relax and rejuvenate, ready to return home inspired to continue the great work you do!

Please carefully read through the schedule, abstracts, and information, then register here! 

Thursday, November 10 & Friday, November 11: IWRC Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Seminar

On November 10 & 11, the Wildlife Center is pleased to host the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council’s Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation seminar. This two-day introductory course covers an introduction to wildlife rehab, basic anatomy and physiology, handling and physical restraint, thermoregulation, stress, basic shock cycle, initial care and physical examination, fluid therapy, standards for housing, zoonoses, euthanasia criteria and release criteria. The course includes a half-day lab to practice techniques in gavage (tube-feeding), physical restraint, intramuscular and subcutaneous injections, physical exams, limb immobilization and weighing. The full course offers 15 Continuing Education Credits.

Those interested in attending the IWRC course can register through the IWRC website. Additional questions? Call IWRC at 866-871-1869 ext. 0.

Friday, November 11: Introductory Classes on Wildlife Rehabilitation 

This year, the Wildlife Center is offering three introductory wildlife rehabilitation classes, perfect for individuals who are interested in helping, transporting, or rehabilitating wildlife as well as learning more about wildlife laws and the wildlife rehabilitation permitting process. These courses are designed for wildlife enthusiasts, volunteer transporters, those who are considering obtaining their rehabilitation permit, or individuals who have their apprentice permit and less than two years of rehabilitation experience. Take a single class à la carte, or take all three classes for a day of learning! Participants will receive a certificate of attendance worth two (2) CE credits per class attended; a total of six (6) CE credits is available for the day. 

7:45 am - 8:00 am — Registration

8:00 am to 10:00 amIntroduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation
Interested in helping wildlife, but not sure where to start? This class offers an comprehensive overview of how to help wildlife, whether you’ll obtain your permit or not. Learn when and how to intervene with orphaned and injured wildlife and where to get the right wildlife advice. Discover ways to get involved, including how to become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator in Virginia. Discussion will include wildlife laws, the rehabilitator’s code of ethics, and considerations on becoming a wildlife rehabilitator. While the specific laws will pertain to Virginia, the information is applicable to any U.S. resident!

10:10 am to 12:10 pm Wildlife Rehabilitation 101* 
This course is ideal for those starting in wildlife rehabilitation. Discussion focuses on helping the new rehabilitator decide which species he/she would like to and can rehabilitate. The class will also include the who, what, when, where, and why of setting up a home rehabilitation room/facility, and will include information on stocking the appropriate equipment and supplies. The importance of natural history will be emphasized, and attendees will learn how to develop an animal nutrition plan. 

12:10 pm to 1:15 pm — Lunch (on your own)

1:15 to 3:15 pmWildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, & Transportation+
Learn effective capture, restraint, and handling techniques for a variety of species and situations. This class includes photos and videos of appropriate capture and restraint techniques of some of the most commonly seen species in wildlife rehabilitation. Discussion includes the importance of learning and developing skills to properly ensure the safety of both you and the animal. We’ll also cover essential transporting tips to keep the animal as stress-free as possible. 

*Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation is a pre-requisite for Wildlife Rehabilitation 101.

+A limited number of complimentary spots are available for volunteer Wildlife Center transporters, active on or before September 1, 2016. Transporters registering for this complimentary class should make a note on the registration form. 

$20 fee per class, or save $10 and take all three classes for $50! Space is limited. Lunch is on your own.

Fun & Social Events on Friday

Wildlife Center Tours – 3:30 & 4:30 pm
Tour the Wildlife Center of Virginia, a hospital for native wildlife. Located in Waynesboro, the Center is just a few minutes away from the Best Western. Participants will need to provide their own transportation to the WCV; please arrive 5-10 minutes before tour time. Reservations required.

Welcome Reception – 7 pm
Join us in the pre-function area of the Best Western for drinks, desserts, and the opportunity to mingle with conference participants. Early check-in at registration table.  

Saturday, November 12 Schedule

7:30 am - 8:30 am – Registration
8:30 am - 8:45 am – Welcome

Session 1 – 8:45 am – 9:45 am

A. What’s That Smell? An Introduction to Skunk Rehabilitation
Skunks are playful, adorable, and wonderful animals to rehabilitate; however, they can be intimidating to those who have no previous experience with them. This class will cover the basic rehabilitation of Virginia's Striped Skunk from infancy to release, plus a few tricks and tips we have picked up over the years of rehabilitating them at Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary.
Jessie Cole, Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, VA

B. Reuniting and Wild-fostering Birds
Reuniting methods for birds depend on an understanding of their nesting behavior, which varies widely from species to species. Cavity or open-cup nest? Territorial or colonial breeder? Precocial or altricial? Flighted or grounded as fledgings? Examples of reuniting methods for a variety of birds are presented, along with a discussion of their behavioral differences—and why they matter. 
Anne Miller, AL

Session 2 – 9:55 am – 10:55 am

A. Caring for the Loud “Flying Cigars”: A Guide to Rehabilitation and Release of Chimney Swifts
Lydia Hoeppner, Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke

B. Reuniting Mammals: Understanding Maternal Behavior
Understanding maternal behavior is the key to success in reuniting healthy young mammals. The presenter has had many years of experience reuniting raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels and birds in an urban setting, and documents many reunions with videos demonstrating maternal behavior and the amazing strength of the maternal bond in a variety of species. 
John Griffin, The Humane Society of the United States, Washington, D. C.

Session 3 – 11:05 am

A. Wildlife Medication Administration Training [one-hour session ends at 12:05 pm]**
This course is designed to teach wildlife rehabilitators how to administer medications prescribed by their veterinarians both safely and accurately. We will cover terminology, types of medications, an overview of medication effects, ways to prepare and administer medications, the proper handling, storage and disposal of medication, and current hot topics like antibiotic resistance and adverse drug events.
Dr. Kelli Knight, Wildlife Center of Virginia

B. Interactive Reuniting Roundtable [45-minute session ends at 11:50 am]
The moderators of this interactive roundtable will answer questions and discuss case histories from the audience focusing on problems and concerns about specific reuniting cases. The moderators will also challenge the audience with unusual reuniting cases to demonstrate how to develop an appropriate reuniting strategy for a variety of bird and mammal species, based on their behavioral differences.
Anne Miller, AL & John Griffin, The Humane Society of the United States, Washington, D. C.

LUNCH & NETWORKING – 12 noon to 1:00 pm

Session 4 – 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

A. Partnership for Success—the Critical Relationship Between Rehabilitator and Veterinarian**
The interaction between wildlife rehabilitators and their cooperating veterinarians can range from a close collaboration and life-saving partnership to a simple signature on a permit application and the exchange of Christmas cards. Potentially, the working relationship between the veterinary practitioner and the permitted rehabilitator is one of the most important factors in determining if wild patients live or die. This panel will explore what it takes to build that strong working relationship from many perspectives. Panelists include wildlife rehabilitators, cooperating veterinarians, agency personnel, and others. They will explore the medical, ethical, legal, regulatory, and financial aspects of wildlife medicine/rehabilitation, and the critical steps required for building an effective partnership.
Ed Clark, Wildlife Center of Virginia; Panelists include: Dr. Kelly Gottschalk, Wellesley Animal Hospital; Dr. Heather Jenkins Brazzell, Healing Springs Animal Hospital; Barbara Slatcher, Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator

B. Debilitated and Emaciated Orphaned Mammals** 
This session is an overview of assessing and caring for compromised orphaned wild mammals. It will include triage and initial assessment upon admission as well as the common conditions that can arise while in captive care. 
Halley Buckanoff, CVT, Valerie H. Schindler Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, North Carolina Zoological Park

Session 5 – 2:40 pm

A. Have You Read Your Permit Conditions … Lately? [two-hour session ends at 4:40 pm]**
This session will be an informal discussion of the permit conditions related to Virginia wildlife rehabilitator permits. Each individual permit condition will be briefly discussed along with related wildlife protection laws. A review of the veterinary-related permit conditions will also be included. At the end, recent non-specific issues with rehabilitators will be discussed and questions from the participants will be entertained.
Randy Francis, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

B. When Good Wounds Get Bad: A Wound Management Workshop* [90-minute session ends at 4:10 pm]**  This session is now full. You may sign up to be on the waiting list; please let us know in the "comment" field on your registration form. 
Wound management can be simple, but it involves a comprehensive care plan that considers all factors contributing to and affecting the wound and the patient. Simple actions can prevent good wounds from getting bad. Good management of a wound can prevent long recoveries, surgery, or long-term problems. During the lab, discussion includes how to manage simple and complicated wounds, when they need specialized veterinary care, and what rehabilitators can do with limited resources to prevent wound complications. 
Dr. Ernesto Dominguez, Wildlife Center of Virginia
*Space is limited. 

Saturday Evening

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm: Upward and Onward--a facilitated discussion for Virginia's wildlife rehabilitation community

Join us for free pizza and beverages to discuss issues facing the rehabilitation community in Virginia. Home-based rehabilitators, rehab facilities, and DGIF will be represented. Help us build a plan of action to move rehabilitation in Virginia to the next level of excellence. Open to those holding a current permit to rehabilitate wildlife in Virginia.

Sunday, November 13 Schedule

7:30 am - 8:15 am – Registration

Session 1 – 8:15 am

A. Fear the Free-Roaming Feline: An Update on Cat-caught Admissions to Wildlife Rehabilitation Facilities [one-hour session ends at 9:15 am]**
In the last several years there have been many studies and articles published on the impact of free-roaming domestic cats on wildlife predation and disease transmission. This talk summarizes the information for wildlife rehabilitators and also discusses the results of an 11-year retrospective study on cat-associated wildlife patient admissions to the Wildlife Center of Virginia and a five-year study in more than 80 rehabilitation facilities in the United States. 
Dr. Dave McRuer, Wildlife Center of Virginia

B. Building Your Balance: Compassion Fatigue and Stress Management [3-hour session; ends at 11:15]
Compassion stress is a normal and natural response to working in a caring field -- and the field of animal care and protection is no exception. Awareness of suffering, our desire to take action to alleviate it, and the weariness that results from the volume of work and depth of caring all lead to exhaustion and burn-out if not carefully managed. Learn the signs and symptoms of compassion stress, fatigue, and burnout, and discover a variety of ways you can stay involved in a rewarding and equally challenging field. Participants will leave with strategies and tools to make the journey easier and sustainable.
Stephanie Itle-Clark, The Humane Society of the United States, Gaithersburg, MD

Session 2 – 9:20 am – 10:20 am

A. Practical Wildlife Endoparasitology**
Yes, it is true that many wildlife species have some level of parasitic infection throughout their lives and that this may not be associated with any clinical disease. So why do you need to know about wildlife parasites? This lecture will provide an overview of relevant parasites in wildlife species with an emphasis on their life cycles. By understanding life cycles, rehabilitators will be better equipped to understand how the animal was infected, if the parasite can infect other wildlife patients or contaminate your facility, and how to assess whether or not treatment is necessary.
Dr. Michele Goodman, Webbed Foot Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic, PA

Session 3 – 10:25 am – 11:25 am

A. Black Bear 101: The Basics about Black Bears in Virginia, Their Management, and How to Peacefully Coexist
With expanding populations of both people and bears, interactions are a common occurrence across Virginia. Perception and education have a great deal of influence on how people respond to bears. Most fears about black bears are perpetuated by misinformation and sensationalism. One of the most important things we can do for both people and bears is to replace the misinformation about bears with facts. This presentation will attempt to give you the information you need to truly appreciate this incredible animal.
Jaime Sajecki, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Session 4

A. Initial Assessment and Care of Herptiles [11:30 am – 12 noon]**
Herps are a broad category of animals including but not limited to turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, and salamanders. This session will cover the initial triage and basic considerations for caring for such a diverse group of animals.
Halley Buckanoff, Valerie H. Schindler Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, North Carolina Zoological Park

B. Loon, Grebe, Diving Duck, and Sea Duck Rehabilitation [11:25 am – 12:05 pm]
It's all about the waterproofing! Successful rehabilitation of these sensitive species requires access to clean water and innovative housing solutions to prevent contamination of feathers by food or feces. Common reasons for presentation, adequate nutrition, and prevention of secondary injuries will also be discussed. 
Brie Hashem, Wildlife Center of Virginia

LUNCH & NETWORKING – 12 noon to 1:15 pm

Session 5 – 1:20 pm – 2:20 pm

A. Waterfowl Rehabilitation Strategies – Dealing with Sensitive Species** 
There is more to waterfowl rehabilitation than mallards and Canada geese. Sensitive waterfowl species often present to wildlife rehabilitation facilities and can be quite challenging to rehabilitate. This lecture will provide rearing and rehabilitation techniques for the different varieties of sensitive waterfowl, with an emphasis on initial assessment, stabilization, stress reduction, supportive care, excellent nutrition, and innovative housing.
Dr. Michele Goodman, Webbed Foot Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic, PA

B. The Best Ways to Make Facebook Work For You
There are more than 70 million business and non-profit pages on Facebook – it seems as though everyone has a presence in this popular social media platform, from schools to animal rescues, from libraries to gas stations. With so many organizations posting content each day, how do you get your wildlife organization to stand out in the crowd? Learn about the most effective Facebook strategies that will help you build your Facebook community. Discussion will also include a number of helpful tricks and tools that will give your organization’s Facebook posts a boost. 
Amanda Nicholson, Wildlife Center of Virginia

Session 6– 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

A. Bat 101**
Explore the natural history and seasonal lives of mid-Atlantic bat species. We'll discuss the energetic demands of flight and echolocation in order to understand some common issues in rehab. We'll also discuss what is and isn't known about nutrition. The session will also include conservation concerns, including white-nose syndrome.
Leslie Sturges, The Save Lucy Campaign, VA

B. What's Inside? An Anatomy Discussion and Necropsy Lab* **  This session is now full. You may sign up to be on the waiting list; please let us know in the "comment" field on your registration form. 
Get to know the critters you care for inside-out! This hands-on session will include a (1) 45-minute overview of avian, mammalian, and reptilian anatomy, including respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, musculoskeletal system, etc. and (2) a 45-minute lab where attendees will be instructed on necropsy techniques and identification of organ systems and associated abnormalities/diseases.
Dr. Peach Van Wick, Wildlife Center of Virginia
*Space is limited.

** These classes are eligible for continuing education hours for licensed veterinarians and veterinary technicians in Virginia based on 18VAC150-20-70, item 2.h. The Call of the Wild conference is co-sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Continuing Education Credits

Each day of the Call of the Wild conference is worth at least six (6) hours of continuing education credits for renewing wildlife rehabilitation permits. Certificates will be provided.  Separate CE certificates will be provided to veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians for eligible classes noted ** above; please note on your registration form if you are a veterinarian or licensed veterinary technician. 


The conference will be held at Best Western Inn & Suites Conference Center in Waynesboro, VA, conveniently located off of Interstate 64 at Exit 94.

The Best Western offers spacious non-smoking rooms with wireless internet access, cable satellite television, an in-room coffee maker, microwave, and refrigerator. This pet-friendly hotel features an array of amenities, including a complimentary hot breakfast buffet, an indoor heated saltwater pool, and a fitness center. Many local restaurants are within walking distance of the hotel.

Room reservations and payment must be made through the Best Western. To reserve a room, please call the hotel directly at: 540-942-1100.

Price and availability is guaranteed through October 20 at midnight, so be sure to make your reservations early! When making reservations, mention that you are attending the Wildlife Center of Virginia conference to receive the $89/night special conference rate.  King suites are also available at $104/night. 

To cut costs, share accommodations! If you need help in locating a roommate, please contact us at  

10/21 update: A small block of rooms is set-up at the nearby Days Inn on Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12 at a special rate of $69/night. Make your reservations by calling 540-943-1101; the room block will be released on November 4.  

Air Travel

For those traveling by air, the two closest airports to Waynesboro are Charlottesville Airport [CHO] and Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport [SHD]. Both are within 30-45 minutes of Waynesboro. Both airports have rental car agencies within the airline terminals.


Introductory classes offered on Friday are $20 each; attend all three and save $10. The early-bird two-day (Saturday/Sunday) conference rate is $130; one-day rate is $80. Student rates will be available for full-time students with a valid ID. 


The conference registration fee includes lunch catered by a local company featuring both vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrees as well as side dishes and desserts. Accompanying guests who are not registered for the conference must pay a meal fee if they will be eating lunch with you [$16/meal]. If you’d like to sign-up your guest for lunch, please email

A number of restaurants are within walking distance or a short drive from the hotel. A “restaurant round-robin” will be organized on Saturday night for those wishing to dine and network with fellow conference participants at a local restaurant.


In between classes, join your fellow attendees in the exhibit hall, where there will be numerous vendors on Saturday and Sunday. See what’s new, learn more about rehabilitation groups throughout the state, and pick up a gift or two!

If you are interested in reserving an exhibit table, please read this information and email  Exhibitors must be registered by October 3.

Free Supplies and Door Prizes

Visit the Wildlife Center’s “giveaway” extravaganza in the conference center! Free products and supplies will be available. Additionally, each participant has the chance to win top-of-the-line products and more through our door-prize give-away! Drawing on Sunday at lunch.

Register for the conference here!

For the well-being of wild animals and as a professional courtesy to all attendees ... please arrange for the care of your wild patients back home while you attend the conference. We want you to fully enjoy yourselves throughout the weekend, and it's much less stressful for the animals as well!