Call of the Wild Conference

November 14-16, 2014

The Wildlife Center of Virginia invites you to the 19th 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, the nation’s leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

From first-time conference attendees to seasoned veterans, Call of the Wild 2014 has something for you. We hope you will be able to join us for this exciting event!

Click here to register

Friday Schedule

This year, we’re pleased to offer a new beginner’s workshop on Friday, November 14!

Basics of Wildlife Rehabilitation:  9:00 am -- 5:00 p.m.  FULL
This workshop is designed for newly permitted rehabilitators and for those considering entering the wildlife rehabilitation field. The day-long workshop includes both lectures and hands-on learning. Multiple instructors provide participants with an introduction to wildlife rehabilitation. Topics include the permitting process, talking to the public about common wildlife scenarios, nutrition, basic husbandry, physical examinations, record-keeping, and fluid therapy. Information on obtaining supplies and equipment will also be included, and instructors will highlight a variety of reputable resources for continued learning. Participants receive a certificate of attendance worth six CE credits. $50 fee. Lunch is on your own. Space is limited.

Fun and Social Events

Wildlife Center Tour – Friday 4 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; plan to arrive 5-10 minutes before tour time. Reservations required (see Registration form).

Welcome Reception – Friday 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 Schedule

7:45 am - 8:45 am – Registration
8:45 am - 9:00 am – Welcome

Session 1 – 9:15 am - 10:45 am
A. Anything and Everything Squirrel
From orphaned pinkies to hefty adults … fast and furious releases … and any ailments or injury in between or beyond, this session gives the squirrel its due. Routine calls as well as unusual questions regarding our friend (and potential victim or trouble maker) the squirrel will be discussed. This interactive class will help us stock our rehab knowledge toolbox with "what to do's" in any squirrel situation. The squirrel … some people can't live with them, and most wildlife rehabilitators can't live without them.
Linda Bergman-Althouse, Wildlife Rehabilitators of North Carolina

B. Keep Calm and Carrion: Vultures in Rehabilitation and Education
Throughout history, the vulture has been idolized, feared, and often misunderstood. This presentation will address this unique bird’s natural history and how it can be applied in rehabilitation and education. Attention will be given to the care of both chicks and adults, with a focus on commonly seen problems and solutions. 
Jackie Kozlowski, Animal Behavior & Conservation Connections and Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, DE; Sharon Burke, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, DE

Session 2 – 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
A. Reuniting Small Mammals: Lessons from the Field
Reuniting young mammals with their parent(s) is a central component of the work done by Humane Wildlife Services, a service which specializes in humane wildlife conflict resolution. This presentation will review the techniques and strategies used by HWS personnel to reunite dependent young with their parent and will review video examples of squirrels, raccoons, and other frequently encountered species. The reuniting protocols and methods employed by HWS can be adapted and utilized by wildlife rehabilitators to reduce unnecessary intake of healthy animals and help ensure long-term survival of dependent young.
John Griffin, Humane Wildlife Services

B. Lead Poisoning and Starting a Non-Lead Hunting Outreach Program
An effective way to decrease the incidence of lead poisoning in wildlife is hunter and angler education. In 2012, the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Nova Scotia started an information based outreach program for hunters and anglers encouraging voluntary transition to non-lead ammunition and fishing tackle. This ongoing effort has resulted in positive and groundbreaking results and initiatives. This discussion will summarize the main issues and background knowledge required to deliver a balanced science-based presentation. When these outreach programs are delivered in a manner that seeks common ground, cooperation between groups can result in positive change. 
Dr. Helene Van Doninck, Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, NS

LUNCH & NETWORKING - 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Session 3 – 1:40 pm - 2:40 pm
A. Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline
The Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline, a collaborative effort between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services program, was developed to provide a central source of assistance to Virginia’s residents who are experiencing wildlife conflicts or have questions about wildlife damage. Callers to the toll-free helpline are able to receive prompt, expert advice and assistance to resolve their wildlife conflicts. This presentation will include information about wildlife conflicts reported to the helpline and how specialists refer and respond to calls.
Jennifer Cromwell, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, APHIS, Wildlife Services

B. Monitoring Virginia’s Amphibians and Reptiles: An Overview of Conservation Surveillance and Solutions
With more than 84 species of amphibians and 66 species of reptiles, Virginia has an especially rich herpetofaunal heritage. Yet, more than one third of species are threatened by habitat degradation and loss, unsustainable use, pollution, and disease. Working with universities and other institutions, NGOs and federal and state partners, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is supporting research to surveil, assess, and monitor the conservation status of more than a dozen species or communities of amphibians and reptiles in the Commonwealth. Tom Akre, a wildlife ecologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, will present an overview of several of these projects, including species of all major taxa from across Virginia.
Dr. Tom Akre, Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, SCBI, VA

Session 4 – 2:50 pm - 3:35 pm
A. Camera Monitoring Study and Strategies to Mitigate Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions
This presentation will provide an overview of successful measures to mitigate animal-vehicle collisions and will describe an ongoing study to identify strategies to reduce collisions with deer and black bear along Interstate 64 in Virginia. With the use of motion-triggered cameras placed along sections of the interstate, the study will provide the Virginia Department of Transportation with recommendations to implement mitigation along areas with high deer and black bear activity.
Bridget Donaldson, Virginia DOT

B. Raccoon Roundworm and Risk Factors for Exposure in Wildlife Rehabilitators
Baylisascaris procyonis, the raccoon roundworm, is a zoonotic parasite and a cause of severe neurologic disease in more than 130 wildlife species. Many of the 30 diagnosed human cases were fatal or resulted in severe neurologic complications; nearly all were in children who likely ingested large numbers of parasite eggs in raccoon feces. We hypothesized that healthy adult human at-risk individuals may have asymptomatic infections resulting from accidental ingestion of low numbers of eggs. Wildlife rehabilitators may be at higher risk for exposure because of frequent contact with raccoons and their feces. Serum samples from 273 wildlife rehabilitators from 33 states and three Canadian provinces were tested for antibodies to B. procyonis; study participants also filled out a questionnaire on their wildlife and raccoon contact to assess possible risk factors. Overall, 19 participants (7%) were positive for antibodies to B. procyonis, of which 13 (68%) had actively rehabilitated raccoons in the past year. This class will review the study and results, and will also focus on next steps to understand the educational needs of the rehabilitation community. 
Sarah Sapp, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, UGA

C. It’s All It’s Cracked Up to Be: A Turtle Shell Fracture Repair Lab* [Two-hour lab] **FULL
Repairing turtle fractures can be both frustrating and rewarding. The goal of this lab is to decrease your frustration and increase your confidence in putting the puzzle pieces of a shell back together using materials that are inexpensive and easy to use. This lab will cover prognostic indicators, materials, and the procedure of shell fracture repair. 
Dr. Helen Ingraham, Wildlife Center of Virginia
*Additional lab fees apply. **Lab is now full -- we will open up registration again if we have any cancelations!

Session 5 – 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm

A. ABC's of Rehabilitating the Striped Skunk
A distinctive self-defense mechanism is not the only challenge presented by the Striped Skunk. Basic rules of rehabilitation often need to be altered to accommodate this unique species. This presentation includes discussions on infant care, diet, common diseases and parasites, and housing, with an emphasis on practical tips of what works to rehabilitate skunks successfully. 
Peggy Hentz, Red Creek Wildlife Center, PA

B. Using an App to Help Injured and Distressed Wildlife
Animal Help Now (AHNow) features a groundbreaking website and free smartphone app that assists people who have encountered orphaned, injured and distressed wildlife in finding the nearest, most appropriate help, 24/7. AHNow features wildlife rehabilitators, hotlines and rescues, as well as humane wildlife control, and veterinarians who treat wildlife. In June 2014, AHNow expanded its wildlife functionality from Colorado and Texas across the entire United States. This class will cover current functionality and benefits for rehabbers, lessons learned in the national expansion, interaction aimed at improving the user experience, and thoughts on better meeting rehabbers’ needs, including plans to expand our assistance to the wildlife rehabilitation community.
Elena Rizzo, Animal Help Now, CO

Sunday Schedule

7:45 am - 8:30 am – Registration

Session 1 – 8:30 am - 9:30 am
A. Wildlife Rehabilitators and the VDGIF, BoP, and BVM: What You Need to Know
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has recently updated the wildlife rehabilitation permit conditions to comply with Board of Pharmacy and Board of Veterinary Medicine rules and regulations and to align with the fourth edition of the National Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Association “Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation”. New permit conditions and concepts will be addressed and time will be allotted for questions from the wildlife rehabilitation community.   
Dr. Megan Kirchgessner and Jim Husband, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

B. Maximizing Education Programs through Improved Management of Non-releasable and Captive-Bred Birds
The use of live birds to enhance education programs is a powerful tool that can leave a lasting impression on our audience. The key to a successful program is healthy, comfortable, and confident birds. This presentation will focus on the philosophy behind training and how to apply these concepts to the daily interactions with our animals. Discussion will also address problem behaviors. The overall objective should be working with birds utilizing safe handling procedures and positive training programs that minimize stress and maximize success.
Jackie Kozlowski, Animal Behavior & Conservation Connections and Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, DE

Session 2 – 9:45 am - 10:45 am
A. The WCV Research Review: A Summary of our Recent Studies and Ongoing Projects
Research is an important component of the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s mission. Throughout the Center’s history, we have published more than 75 articles in peer-reviewed and rehabilitation journals on a wide range of wildlife and conservation topics. This talk will discuss some of our most recent findings and current research projects. 
Dr. Dave McRuer, Wildlife Center of Virginia

B. Birds: It’s All about the Poop!
This lecture will be an inclusive class about raising injured and orphaned birds, ranging from Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds to Yellow-Billed Cuckoos to Pileated Woodpeckers. The class will include information about diet requirements for a variety of bird species, live caging demonstrations, food and brand recommendation, and advice on raising difficult species (including Carolina Wrens and Chimney Swifts). Learn the tips and tricks of avian rehabilitation from the “bird nerds” from Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center.
Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center

Session 3 – 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

A. Feathers, Tails, and Scales: Physical Therapy for All
Soft tissue and orthopedic injuries are some of the most common reasons why wildlife present to rehabilitation facilities. The goal of this lecture is to emphasize the impact physical therapy can provide to return patients to normal function and improve prognosis for release. The lecture will cover indications, description of exercises, housing considerations, and laser therapy for avian patients and will also include brief discussion for reptilian and mammalian counterparts. 
Dr. Meghan Feeney, Wildlife Center of Virginia

B. Eating on the Fly! Basics of Raising Aerial Insectivores
In the summer of 2010, Tri-State Bird Rescue admitted 68 fledgling Purple Martins, roughly five times the annual average. The majority of these birds arrived in a 72-hour period, so by necessity, many lessons were learned that summer. This presentation will address the defining characteristics of an aerial insectivore, the various species that comprise this unique guild along with challenges their populations face, and most importantly, how rehabilitators can use the species' natural histories to improve husbandry and optimize feeding success of these young birds.
Sharon Burke, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, DE

LUNCH & NETWORKING - 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Session 4 – 1:10 pm - 2:10 pm
A. Principles of Enrichment (lecture)
Are you interested in providing environmental enrichment for your patients and education ambassadors but aren’t sure where to start? Join us for a presentation about the basics of environmental enrichment in a rehabilitation setting. Learn the principles of enrichment, and find some ideas that you can implement with the animals in your care.  
Amber Dedrick, Wildlife Center of Virginia

B. Cleaning up your Triage with S.O.A.P.
The focus of this presentation will be basic triage from a veterinary medicine point of view using the S.O.A.P. format. Using SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan) will help rehabbers organize information gathered during triage and will make it easier to share the information with others involved in the care of that wild patient. Cases will be presented showing how to use SOAP from admission through the stabilization period. 
Dr. Diane D’Orazio, Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center

Session 5 – 2:20 pm - 3:20 pm
A. Wondering about Whistlepigs?
Do you get calls about orphaned woodchucks (a.k.a. “whistlepigs” or “groundhogs”) but pass them on to other rehabbers because you’ve never raised them before? Not sure what the proper protocol is? This presentation will introduce you to the world of raising and releasing woodchucks. You’ll be more prepared when you get the call “I’ve found a baby groundhog. What should I do?” Woodchucks are amazing creatures, and a joy to raise. If you already raise other rodents (like squirrels), you’re halfway there. There are plenty of advice and shared tips and tricks in this presentation to make you feel like you can raise whistlepigs, too.
Lynn Oliver, Valley Wildlife Care Inc., VA

B. Be Critical --  Be Very, Very Critical
Fine tune your "baloney detectors"! This session focuses on critical consumption of journal articles (including rehab journals) and media. We’ll discuss the difference between anecdote and data, and how and when anecdote BECOMES data. Sound boring? It won’t be!
Leslie Sturges, The Save Lucy Campaign, VA

C. Principles of Enrichment Workshop* [Two-hour workshop] 
This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to practice making simple enrichment items for the animals in your care from easy-to-acquire materials. Exchange ideas with other rehabilitators as you create fun enrichment items, and take home a few simple items for your patients or education animals!
*This workshop is free, but has limited enrollment. Those attending the workshop must first attend the Principles of Enrichment lecture. 
Amber Dedrick, Wildlife Center of Virginia

Session 6 – 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
A. The Success inside You
In a few short years, Red Creek Wildlife Center transformed from a volunteer, home-based, self-supported rehab hobby to a self-sustaining professional wildlife center with paid staff members. A change in perspective can be the first step in realizing your dream of making wildlife rehabilitation a life-long career. This entertaining hour will help you realize that the “poor rehabilitator” is a myth … and gives you the tools to bust it!
Peggy Hentz, Red Creek Wildlife Center, PA


Early-bird two-day conference rate is $130; one-day rate is $80.  Student rates will be available for full time students with a valid ID.  Friday beginner's workshop is $50.


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 22, 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.

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.


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. 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 organizing 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 email by Oct. 15.

Free Supplies & Door Prizes

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

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!

From first-time conference attendees to seasoned veterans, Call of the Wild 2014 has something for you. We hope you will be able to join us for this exciting event!

Click here to register