Saturday, December 1, 2007

Wildlife Rescue

I have always envied a good friend of mine who is a well known licensed wildlife rehabilitator. I have been doing animal rescues for the last 20 years but she always is doing some great animals...she is one of the best. I have done wildlife rescue since high school but I am finally licensed and I have completed the rabies vector training so I am certified to do a lot of different species. My friend let me apprentice under her before I got my license and I did 9 fawns this year and it was one of the toughest things Ive ever done...but I loved every second of it. I didnt really get attatched, I really looked at them as a challenge. How could I keep them alive without them imprinting on me and get them back into the wild...I loved every second of it.

Most wildlife rehabilitators have a specialty, I don't. I havnt really found my niche yet. I have raised just about every animal known but I like them all and havnt decided what I want to specialize in...if anything. I have always been the "wildlife guy"...people catch the baby animals, I try to get it back where they found it .... When people find baby wildlife they think that they are helping them by picking them up and bringing them to me...that is actually one of the worst things that they can do...I figured since tonight is the first night we opened up this segment of the Blog that I had to tell you about one of the coolest and most endangered species I have ever rescued.

I try to be a very big part of my childrens lives while doing the rescue work that I do... quite often I am on the road while they are doing their concerts, plays and sporting events. I feel guilty about it but my kids know that I do what I have to do and every other night I will be at karate, gymnastics and riding lessons. I normally take Jacob for his karate lessons 4 nights a week. The one night I didnt take him was animal related. Barbers had called, they had a ton of veggies from the road stand for me and i opted to blow off karate to go get a couple of truckloads of veggies for the rescues. While I was getting things done at the farm, everyone else was at karate. Now you have to understand the DOJO. It is located right on a major highway route 30 coming into town. It is right by the pharmacy and the Grand Union...

Everyone was in karate (except Jacob and I) and one of the kids noticed that a "hawk" was sitting in the middle of the road in front of the DOJO. Why their parents let them I dont know but the kids ran out and chased the "hawk" out of the road. Then the comment was made that they had better catch it and get it up to Mr.Laraway right away because he could fix it. They really did everything right. They chased the wounded "hawk" into an ewmpty garbage can, put the lid on and onbe of the older kids volunteered to take it up to the farm in his old beat up car....garbage can in the back seat, off they went. One thing I can say about "my students" is they love my animal stories and they learn from them. At the same time I was coming down Main Street in my truck to go to the roadstand...they spotted me and the pursuit began....

Now keep in mind, I didnt know that they had a raptor....I go everywhere in a hurry....i thought that it was strange that this car was coming up fast behind me in my rear view mirror. As the car pulled up along side of my truck over double solid lines they pulled up along side of my truck and appeared to be yelling something. I didnt recognize them, I believe I might of made some sort of hand motion and stepped down on the gas peddle.....leaving them a long way behind. Colin and I shrugged it off, pulled into Barbers and started loading veggies when (I kid you not) a car full of kid pulled in. Their car was smoking out from under the hood, they were visible shaken and said "Mr. Laraway, we've been chasing you for 5 miles, why didnt you stop, we have an injured hawk for you..." I smiled, said something apolegetic and said "lets see what you have in the can". I opened the lid and peered down into the darkness, I'll be dammed, looked like a falcon to me...not the red tailed hawk I was expecting to be hissing back at me. I yelled to Colin (who was still loading veggies) to get my hawk gloves and bag out from under the seat of my truck and within minutes we were on our way back to the farm with the boys standing at the roadstand waving in my rear view mirror.

When I got home, I instantly shifted into "Falcon" mode. I dont claim to be a raptor expert (yet) but I got the bird out of the bag in my kitchen. My wife snapped 4 photos while I was explaining to my friend that I thought I had a Peregrine Falcon (an endangered species) sitting on my hand. I dont think that she thought my bird identification skills were too good, she offered to come down imediately if it was seriously injured (bleeding and broken) but I explained that it appeared to be stable. I had a hawk box set up, it was covered and stable....she said that she would get it in the am. I would have loved to have seen her expression when she picked up the sheet in the am and saw a Peregrine Falcon sitting on my kitchen table.

The bird was most likely reared by a wild pair of falcons on our local landmark/cliffs called Vromans Nose. The State tags all the chicks they can get to because Peregrines are so rare in the Northeast but this was a wild pair and the nest was impossible to reach. The bird has great medical care, the bird is in great hands, probably one of the most knowledgable raptor specialists I know. The State DEC is aware of everything, the endangered species unit is thrilled. I am still optimistic that after the bird is overwintered (they dont spend winters here) that it can be released in the spring near where it was born and can help repopulate the valley from the affects of ddt in raptors. I will keep you updated. Wes

1 comment:

Gayze said...

I love love love raptors. They are some of the coolest creatures on earth, both hawk/falcons and owls. When I worked for a vet many years (okay, decades) ago, we were always having injured raptors brought to us. There was a raptor rehab expert who was a client. We'd tend to their physical situation and, as soon as they were well enough, the rehab man would take them home, get them strong again, and relase them. Whenever he'd come in, I'd be glued to his side, listening to his stories, and glorying in the chance to help him with the birds. They truly have a piece of my heart.

I look forward to the follow ups to this bird's story.