July Patient Admissions: Who's at the Center?

During the mid-summer months, patient admissions at the Wildlife Center of Virginia start slow down compared to the bustle of spring “baby season”, though overall, the caseload remains fairly high. What kinds of animals are currently at the Center?

WILD-One – a digital patient management system created by the Center – allow our staff and other permitted wildlife rehabilitators to find and analyze such data easily and efficiently. On July 17, 2023, the Wildlife Center of Virginia was actively providing veterinary and rehabilitative care for 203 patients.

July 17, 2023 Patient Data

Michael Adkins, the Center’s Front-Desk Supervisor, regularly fields phone calls from members of the public seeking advice and information about wildlife, giving him an excellent understanding of the seasonal trends and patterns related to both patient admissions and resolvable human-wildlife conflicts. When asked about the Center’s current patient load compared to recent phone calls, Adkins shared the following insights:

As of July 17, about 44% of the active patients at the Center were reptiles. Would you say about half of the phone calls you’re getting from the public are about reptiles?

Adkins: "I don’t think the number of active reptile patients is representative of the calls we’re getting. I think that has more to do with reptile biology and their generally slower rate of healing compared to birds or mammals. I feel like we’re getting a very even amount of calls across all types of animals — mammals, baby birds, reptiles, raptors, and nuisance animal calls. I would also guess that we have admitted far more mammals and birds overall than reptiles over the past month, as that tracks with our general year-end stats."

What species or human-wildlife conflict are people calling the most about?

Adkins: "It’s pretty even across all types of calls at this point in the year. About a month ago we had a huge influx of fawn-related calls, but it has since tapered off."

Front Desk Supervisor Michael Adkins

If you could telepathically send a message related to wildlife help and advice to everyone reading this, what would it be? For example, “don’t be a fawn-napper” or, “check the website for FAQs before calling”?

Adkins: "Please wait for advice from a permitted wildlife rehabilitator before acting (if possible). If an animal is clearly injured and in distress, it’s ok to safely contain it. What sometimes happens next, though, is when more trouble can occur. People almost always have their hearts in the right place when it comes to trying to rescue animals, but their heads are sometimes far behind. Despite their best intentions, people sometimes put the animal or themselves in further jeopardy by trying to care for animals that realistically just need immediate attention from a professional. If you feed a baby bird or bunny, you could very well kill it. If you cuddle and keep a raccoon for several days, then you are endangering yourself and the raccoon.

The other message I would share is that wildlife rehabilitation is a severely underfunded and overlooked field. Resources are very limited, and it’s an almost entirely volunteer-driven service. There is no government agency or municipal service specifically assigned to help these animals, and it takes everyone doing their part to make it work. By extension, be patient and kind to those who work in the field of wildlife rehabilitation; they provide an important and undervalued service and generally do so with little recognition or assistance."

Your support matters! Donations to the Wildlife Center of Virginia help provide life-saving medical care to sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals year-round. Learn more about ways to give at wildlifecenter.org/donate. Thank you!