Wildlife Rescue Tips
The Wisconsin Humane Society operates the largest wildlife rehabilitation center in the state. Located at 45th St. and Wisconsin Ave., the shelter staff at the Center treat over 5,000 wild animals of about 135 different species each year – from field mice to foxes, hummingbirds to herons. A goal of the WHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is to rehabilitate and release the animals they receive back into the wild, relying on a handful of highly trained staff members and a host of dedicated volunteers. Like the entire humane society, the Wildlife Center relies entirely on community donations to carry out its work.
In the last two years alone the Center has treated over 200 animals from Riverwest. In addition to the more common animals found in the area like Cottontails, Mallards, and Canada Geese, concerned citizens from the neighborhood have also brought many more unusual creatures to the Center: a Silver Haired Bat, an American Kestrel (a small falcon), and a Nashville Warbler.
Some Riverwest residents may not be fully aware just how valuable the Milwaukee River is to wildlife. The river and its banks serve as a wildlife “corridor;” numerous species of birds use this pathway of water and vegetation to move north and south on annual migrations. Mammals like white-tailed deer, raccoons, opossums, and Red Foxes also live in and move through the corridor.
There are a number of things Riverwest residents and businesses can do to keep wildlife from harm and minimize the potential for nuisance conflicts with wildlife:
• Have your home or business’ chimney capped. This will prevent animals like raccoons from nesting in the chimney and will keep gray squirrels, wood ducks, and screech owls from becoming trapped inside the chimney as they explore it as a possible nest site.
• Estimates of between 100 million to one billion birds die in collisions with windows in the U.S. each year! Apply bird-saving treatments to any windows that have previously caused the death of birds. Plastic window appliques or fine-mesh plastic netting hung in front of problem windows can help save bird’s lives.
• Pick up carelessly discarded fishing line to prevent severe injuries to waterfowl.
• Call the Humane Society for advice before picking up young animals and birds that you think may be orphaned. Usually, the parents are nearby and the youngsters are not really orphaned.
For more information about these issues, or if you find a sick or injured wild animal, please call the Center at 414/431-6137. Helpful information, including how to become a volunteer, is also available on the WHS web site at www.wihumane.org. Life-saving chimney caps and window clings are available for sale through “Wally’s Workbench” at the shelter, with profits benefiting the animals at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
Riverwest Currents online edition - July, 2004