A year in review

Top 2020 moments from the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Although 2020 was a challenging year for many, the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (MWRC) kept doing good work. Even in a year that saw limited intakes, the MWRC released 376 patients back to the wild—from baby mice to a bald eagle and everyone in between.

The year saw many successes, but here are just a few highlights.

Bobcats receive a second chance

The center received an orphaned bobcat on September 28. Weighing just over a pound and a half, this youngster still has some growing to do. An adult female with a fractured jaw and head trauma arrived December 15.  Now healing well, they will “meet” through adjacent caging and hopefully continue their healing together.

Snake entangled in wires

Entangled animals cut loose

The center saw several entanglement success stories, including a red-tailed hawk caught in a local prison’s razor wire, a wood duck found trapped with two treble hooks and fishing line, a snake in plastic netting, a barred owl in barbed wire, and a common loon with a swallowed fishing hook. All of these (and more!) were safely and successfully captured, treated, and released back into the wild.  

Baby groundhog is happy to be home

Weighing just under 200 grams (7 ounces), this baby already had two broken legs when she arrived. Single groundhogs can be difficult to keep wild, but this young whistle pig was not a fan of center staff. She was released by students after numerous bandage changes, many salad greens eaten, and 54 days of rehabilitation.

Baby groundhog

Staying connected with southern flying squirrels

The MWRC received 16 Southern Flying Squirrel patients in 2020, 12 of which have been released so far.  Several were released at a volunteer’s home, where we were delighted to see rare post-release photos!

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Ruby-throated hummingbird gets a lift

The ruby-throated hummingbird known to the center as Patient 2020-0670 healed her wing injury, but long after her cohorts had migrated south. After 72 days of care at the MWRC, a mentor gave her a ride to Florida, where she was connected with a Lees-McRae College alumna (and current rehabilitator) for acclimation and release.

Turtles race to recovery

The MWRC received 17 turtles in 2020, including eastern box turtles, common snapping turtles, a painted turtle, and a common musk turtle. Most were victims of vehicle trauma and required creative fixation solutions.

Osprey begrudgingly accepts help

Patient 2020-0090 was a real success story. Osprey are notoriously challenging in rehab, as they can be picky eaters and easily stressed. This osprey was hit by a car, fracturing her coracoid. She ate fresh-caught trout (the first one hand-delivered by President Lee King) and did not want to be in captivity for a single one of her 39 days of treatment.

Students rise to the challenge

Despite the pandemic, tremendous adaptability, creativity, and dedication kept the center operational all year. Twenty-six students were able to participate in a customized summer clinical experience. With masks required and safety modifications in place, these students completed their experience with as much enthusiasm, perseverance, and compassion for wildlife as any ever have. Over 30 wildlife rehabilitation students graduated in May or December 2020. Way to go team!

The May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center cares for injured wildlife in an educational setting. With the guidance of Director Nina Fischesser and veterinarian Dr. Amber McNamara, students develop the skills to provide outstanding care regardless of a patient’s status or species.

Learn more about the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center>>

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By Emily WebbMarch 02, 2021
Academics