Oh, and remember I said no more…

Yep, meet ‘Gnawdagen’ or maybe I should call her ‘Britney’ as in ‘Ooops, I did it again’.

Another late born beaver kit to take over our leisure life and garage… and her temperament makes Dewy look mellow.

Speaking of Dewy…he’s busily repairing the old beaver house…he knows how to beaver.

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Did I say I was looking forward to retirement????

When I retired from Natural Resources, I had visions of coffees on the deck, lounging, lots of fishing, swimming, boating, visiting, photography, art….you know, fun stuff.

Instead this was one of my most busiest years, not only personally but in the rehab world as well. Thank heavens for my foster custodians, who have taken on the extra workload that I have had to turn down. And in particular, Erika, who has been run ragged with rescues that I couldn’t do.

There has been a influx of young broadwing and sharp-shinned hawks with a mysterious ailment. We have sent one in for testing when it passed away. Some were able to recover and get released, and two are still in care. They seem stunned and disoriented, and seem to have issues with their vision. I couldn’t release them until I was certain they could see to hunt and pounce again. It seemed after a few weeks, they were back to normal. Strange…and I believe similar cases were seen in Manitoba rehab centers as well.

Speaking of strange, yes, that is a piglet…a friend who works for MTO found ‘Bouncer’ along side the Trans Canada Highway near town. We assume that the poor little guy fell out of a hog transport traveling the highway. He had terrible road rash and bites on his ears and sides. Bouncer is now happily living out his life at the 10 Acres Woods in Anola, Manitoba.

On average, I have 10-20 calls a day on my answering machine…many of which I am unable to respond to for various reasons. And so many folks who call assume that I have call display and will say call (or text) me back…but do not leave a number for me to do so. Or calls come in and the person in on a cell phone walking and talking and I may get every second or third word of what they are saying…or will leave a very quickly rattled off number at the end of their call that gets cut off. To these folks, I do apologize that I did not get back to you, but these may be the reasons…

gotta run….critters need care….

Sandy – the Sandy Lake Eagle

IMG_7124This beautiful young eagle was brought to me in September of 2017. It took a coordinated effort from the wonderful Ella and Darlene of the Northern Dog Rescue, a generous airline, MNRF staff and Jen from Kenora to get it to me. It had been found at the dump in Sandy Lake, unable to fly and starving.

When I received it, there were no noticeable breaks, but the wing drooped. A bit more manipulation confirmed its ‘wishbone’ was fractured. As would happen if a humans collarbone was broken, it was painful for the bird to pull up its wing. So, as with humans, I knew the wing had to be supported until it healed. The poor thing had to be confined for the winter in a small area, as to not allow it to reinjure itself.

It was obviously relieved when I was able to move it out to a larger pen this spring. While the wing still had a slight droop, the young bird had no problem flying the full length of the flight cage or flying straight up to the high perch.

Sandy was ready to go… I thought…

Michelle at the MNRF arranged for a pickup, (I was pleasantly surprised to see it was one of the Ontario Rangers who had come to help me a few years back) and arranged a release in Sioux Lookout, as Sandy Lake was not an option.

According to Michelle, the release was less than spectacular. As it often seems to happen, the long distance transfers in a dark box and release into a strange area disorients the bird. It wasn’t willing to take off and chose to stay grounded. I knew the eagle could fly and since this has happened in the past with transported birds, I suggested that they let it take its time and get its bearings.

I would normally do the releases in an area where I am able, if necessary, to recapture the bird if it fails to launch. Fingers crossed that Sandy can live out an eagles life and readjusts to life in the wild.

Ah, Migizi, Go Girl!

Back in October of 2017, I was contacted by folks up in Red Lake about an adult bald eagle that had been hit by a vehicle. It was gathered up and taken to a lady in Red Lake who was willing to help. Helen contacted me and arrangements were made to get the injured bird to me.

My veterinarian gave the big bird a thorough exam, and x-rays proved our worst fears. A wing was fractured and the right leg was broken. This prognosis was not good. In many severe cases like this, euthanizing is the only option. But the ulna was a closed fracture and the radius would form a natural splint as long as the bird was kept in close quarters. The leg had a spiral fracture, not good…

Celia and I discussed what could be done for the eagle. I was willing to take on the rehab part, so my wonderful vet and staff set about setting Migizi’s leg. And so the healing began.

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Migizi with my temporary cast…prior to leg being set.

It was a long, long cold winter, but she toughed it out…She was one of the most demanding eagles I’ve rehabilitated when it came to feeding time. She would start screaming her food call as soon as she heard me open the door in the morning, continued the screaming as I chopped up fish, chicken, road kill or whatever to feed her and the other eagles in care.  She was not shy about eating and the two pounds of fresh food disappeared quickly.

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I had hoped to release her in early spring, but the winter held on… a quick test flight proved she had the lift she needed but because of her compromised leg, I did not want to use jesses on her. After I knew she had the necessary strength, I put her in the flight cage. Unfortunately, winter damage to sections of the pen reduced the space she could practice in.

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As August rolled around, I knew she had to get back out into the wild. She had become too used to being fed on a daily basis, and had to get back to being a free bird again. Once I was sure she was over her feather molt, and her quills had hardened off, I contacted Helen. She and her amazing family and friends arranged to pick up Migizi and release her in a location Helen knew of that seemed suitable.

Migizi was, as Helen put it, being a brat. Her initial release was less than spectacular. She hopped out and down the beach and just sat there that night. I wasn’t concerned as released birds who are unsure of their surroundings will often sit until they get their bearings. She was there the next morning too, and unfortunately, campers had arrived.  We discussed recapture, but as it turned out, she finally decided to leave.

The next week or so will be touch and go as to whether she is able to fend for herself with other eagles and to rebuild all her flight muscles that can only strengthen with full open flight.

Her fate is in her own talons now…we humans can only do so much….

 

The Crew from the Sioux (Lookout) made it here too!

It was a pleasant surprise when Dylan called from the Sioux Lookout Youth Rangers to say they could make the trip to Kenora. And as an added bonus, Connor messaged me early morning of their intended arrival to let me know his crew could come now too!. Wow, I hadn’t planned enough projects for the added manpower but I scurried to put together a plan.

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There are always crates and water bowls to be cleaned…and they did so.

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Tarps to be cleaned and replaced as flooring… nasty, nasty job…but they were right in there, scrubbing and sweeping.

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And then the eagle pens…lots of work to clean and repair and many loads of sand to cover the floor.

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There had been so much winter damage done to my eagle enclosures that I had to refuse several eagles this spring. It broke my heart to, but as it was, I had 6 in care already, snow damaged enclosures, and no funds to rebuild. The fact that the Rangers repaired this one to the point of being useable again, at least for the time being, was a Godsend.

Once again, so many heartfelt THANK YOU’s to the Crews from Kenora and Sioux Lookout for coming to my aid again. And thanks so much for their supervisors for allowing this to happen. It takes a community to help the injured wildlife and our communities seem to always step up to the plate.

Thank you, Migwitch, and merci!

Dam rewarding (part 2)

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Yes, healing was slow. And even still when I catch a glimpse of Dewy doing a cruise-by in the pond, I can see a rough patch over his spine where his hide was ripped by his aggressors teeth. But wait, I am assuming that the other beaver attacked him. Knowing Dewy, it may have been the other way around. It seems that a week or so after the altercation, the two adult beavers left the pond, leaving their kit behind. There is a possibility that the wolves or bears killed the adults, but there were no circling vultures or eagles. And we did see that our nearby lake had fresh beaver chewings…so we are assuming they moved on.

I wasn’t too eager to release Dewy as the wolves were visiting pretty regularly. But once again, he took matters into his own hands, and dug his way out of the enclosure. He would spend the night on the pond, and go back to the enclosure during the day. This was actually an ideal soft release. And he would wheeze and flirt with the wild kit too. Also good.

This summer saw some of the hottest driest days in years. Our pond is slowly draining down. The wild kit has left, it seems, but every few days I see Dewy out in the deepest section of the pond. He materializes from somewhere, and disappears…

I don’t see that he is using the newest house, and don’t see any obvious mudding or disturbance in the water. So as near as I can figure, he has made himself a den in the oldest house on the pond, which is basically just a pile of old sticks and logs now covered in sedges.

When I see him, I toss him an apple or treat, and he takes it, but really has no interest in renewing our friendship…and that’s a good thing.

I hope his instincts remain strong and he can survive the winter in this diminishing pond, or survive the trek through wolf territory to the lake below.

Dam it, Dewy, you were a challenge, but what a little survivor you are! Bon Chewing!

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dewy on the loose...
just beavering around the pond…

Dam rewarding!

Last July Barb Tucker and her husband delivered a tiny beaver kit to me. They had found it on the shores of their property on the south side of Lake of the Woods. It took a few days to make contact, and during that time, they had taken great care of the tiny mite.

It was an odd situation as beaver kits are normally born in the first and second week of May in these parts, but things happen in nature that don’t always make sense…but here I was once again the custodian of one of the most endearing wildlife I ever have had the honour of raising…or so I thought.

I have raised several beaver kits and they all had individual, strong personalities. But all were charming and easy going…Dewy was the exception.

Dewy, named after the Dew Drop Water cardboard carton he was delivered to me in, was an angry beaver. From the time he was a tiny kit he roared, and raged and tossed his body around in temper tantrums. “Want food…don’t want food…want swim…don’t want swim…want comfort…DONT TOUCH ME!!!”  I had my hands full.

As in the past, I had to overwinter the little one. He was still so tiny by fall, I initially had to keep him in my rehab room in the basement of our house. May as well have put a Tasmanian devil down there. Each morning, I would have to collect up the materials he had gathered during the night. His treasures that he had hoarded into his crate would include brooms, dustpans, clean towels and sheets used for critter bedding (now sodden from his bath water), books, magazines, …he didn’t give a dam what it was, as long as he could move it. Finally, I was able to set up a pen for him in the garage (Sorry Bruce!). The garage is insulated but not heated and does not have water lines…so I was in it for the long haul…the long haul of water from the house to the garage … every day and twice a day…to refill his tub. And the tub had to be emptied of the dirty water, every day…and twice a day… I developed some pretty impressive upper arms by spring, I must say.

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And the hydro bill to keep his little corner of the world warm enough…well….lets not talk about that.  But most importantly, he thrived…and ranted, and raged and whined the whole winter.

And of course, as luck would have it … it was the winter from hell… long with many stretches of exceptionally cold weather. Okay, so now I’m whining.

I was happy when the day came he could be moved down to the enclosure by the pond. Last year, I had raised foxes in it, so all the substrate on the ground had to be scraped up and removed and more reinforcement against gnawing teeth had to be added.

Dewy seemed content with his new surroundings and was especially curious about the wild beaver who had wintered in the pond. The two adults and a kit from the previous year (a few months older than Dewy) would swim back and forth in front of his pen, wheezing and bugling at him. He ranted and raged and wheezed back at them.

As he grew older and bolder, he started to test the pen’s strength, tugging and pulling at the wire and timbers. Then he started to dig. Each morning I would add rocks to the hole but I knew it was only a matter of time he would succeed.

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One morning I went to give him his rodent block and fresh browse, and was surprised when he didn’t come out of his crate to scold me. I went to check on him, and found him stretched out on his bedding, barely moving. When I touched his back, my hand came back bloody. I could feel caked blood and an open wound. This was not good. During the night he had made an opening under the pen, confronted the wild beaver and got into a fight. It is common for beavers when fighting to bite the back and spine of their opponent, crippling them. Dewy’s wound went right down to bone. He was wise enough to find his way back into the only home he knew and felt safe in.

A visit to the vet was not an option for this 30 lb furry fury, so I would clean and disinfect the wound several times a day, ensuring flies did not infest it. He was actually quite complacent with my tending, maybe having been bested by his opponent humbled him.

The healing process was long.

(but now, my internet is creeping and my critters are screaming for food so…to be continued)

Well, I’m a little behind…

It seemed impossible this year to actually sit down at the computer and write. So much to catch up on, but at least this is a start.

Two teams of Ontario Rangers, one from Ontario Parks and one from the Kenora District Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests were here helping me in the past week. It is because of their help, I actually can sit down without feeling guilty that I should be ‘out there’ fixing or feeding something.

Once again, I am so impressed by these young folks. They worked so hard for me in some of the not-so-pleasant conditions, digging holes, moving pens, setting up a pen, hauling dirt, cleaning out a pen, painting and more. So thank you Sebastian and Paradise for offering up your crews this year. I think they will all go far in this world, as they are not afraid of work. And they were so fun to be with. Made me feel young again.

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Missing John…darned wisdom teeth…
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Old campaign signs are wonderful donations! The lightweight coroplast is great for my pens…but to not be blatantly political, I had the crew paint over the candidates names.
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And I need graves from time to time…sniff, sniff

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Didn’t take the little fox long to muss up all his nice new sand…

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Dewy’s pen is getting a clean up…ready for next patient.

Sadly, the crews from Sioux Lookout had to cancel this year. No travel funds available at this time I believe. I would have had them helping to rebuild my flight cages which took a terrible hit this past winter. I doubt they will last another winter and then I have to rethink my role as a raptor rehabilitator. The pens are currently housing 5 eagles, 3 of which I hope to release soon. Once they are gone, I think I have to turn down all new eagle patients. As it was, I had to turn down several eagles this year as I was full up. And the dollars just aren’t there in my Charity Account to rebuild or build new flight cages. We are so desperately in need of new Wildlife Custodians in this area. The demand is much greater than I, and my foster rehabbers, can handle.

But enough of the waa waa waa… this is a good news story and I will leave it like that.

Next posts will bring you up to date on the critters in care …

I’ve been slacking off…

Wow, just realized I haven’t posted since August, so better get caught up, I guess!

I think I left off with a hint of a beaver kit in care. I received a late born (July 26th birth!) beaver kit rescued by a landowner from the south end of Lake of the Woods. There had been 3, but this one was the only survivor. Mom had given birth without the benefit of a safe beaver house to contain the young, so they were fair game for predators and their dog.

When the folks delivered him to me, I was not too optimistic as it hadn’t likely fed from mom to get the necessary colostrum for him to thrive. And because of the remoteness, Barb and her husband were not close to any pet or feed stores that may have a suitable replacement milk. It was days before we made contact and arranged delivery.

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He was soooo tiny! But when I picked him out of the Dew Drop Water carton, his angry little cries were strong and demanding. He was determined to live and that was a good thing. And name on the box suited him…Dewy…

First thing was to make sure he was able to pee and poo, so a gentle introduction to the warmed water in the tub proved his plumbing was okay.

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Next was to start a slow feeding, little by little, as too much food to a starving animal all at once is often fatal. I had a special Zoologic formula suitable for beaver kits and a special Benebac probiotic for orphans. Now, most of the young beavers I have raised took readily to a human preemie nipple. Not so this one. All he would accept was a two cc syringe and even as he grew and demanded more and more food, it had to be from this small apparatus. Feedings were slow and his Hangry temper would rage if I was slow in getting the syringes filled and into his mouth.  He could draw that plunger down with incredible suction, swallow, take a deep breath and start yelling again for more. He was indeed an angry beaver.

Another important addition to a young beavers life in rehab are soft cuddly bedmates. So I shopped around at the local garage sales for suitable friends. He liked this one best at first. IMG_6602

Nights were spent in my rehab room in our basement, but warm sunny days were spent in an outside enclosure. He could hear the beavers in our pond calling on quiet days, and he would respond excitedly.  There were some great conversations going on back and force.

He slowly got to sampling aspen, willow and sedges. I hauled some of the algae covered beaver chewed logs from the pond for him too, as these would help build up his gut flora to digest the bark and fiber of his natural foods.

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As he grew, he became more determined to rearrange and chew everything in his home. Once he chewed through his pen in the basement one time too many, I figured it was time to  move him out to where he would be spending the winter… our garage…

(To be continued)…

A busy summer…

Lots of critters brought in this year, some were successfully rehabbed or raised and released, some not so.

I was able to release a young groundhog last week that had been picked up by school kids at Evergreen school. It likely got separated from its mom and fell victim to curious hands. But it was not in a safe place, so a friend rescued it and brought it to me.

An amazing team of caring people arranged the capture and flight out of Sandy Lake for an adult bald eagle. It had been on the ground at the landfill and was obviously in distress. The airlines was able to fly it out, and Jen Derouin was able to drive it to me from Sioux Lookout. It had been severely injured with fishing line that had tangled in the wing and leg. The lacerations were deep and very badly infected and maggot infested. Antibiotics and deep cleaning did little to stop the infection, and despite everyone’s amazing help to try to save it, it was not to be.

A young sharp-tail hawk was brought to me by Stacey Skene from the OMNRF. It had been found in the yard of another OMNRF employee, unable to fly. It appeared to have a head injury as the eyes showed different dilation in the light. But today it flew up on a perch and was able to see the food I put out, and readily flew down to eat it. Already much stronger so I have high hopes for this one.

I have had more help this year from my foster helpers and that has been amazing! Thank you, Erika, Erin, Michelle and the rest of you angels out there!

Cause my hands are full now with this guy…

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