In keeping with last week’s theme, another quote from Einstein: The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. Has anyone noticed how smart that guy was? Obviously I am quite brilliant myself, if limitation is a measure of intelligence. The previous article detailed the trials and tribulations I face just walking in the front door to work. Peace River Wildlife Center’s lead rehabber, Farrah, is a mastermind herself when it comes to puzzles. Since we have been inundated with injured turtles and tortoises this year, she has gotten quite good at piecing their broken shells back together, gluing them in place with zip ties, and taking pictures to document their healing. Which is a wonderful way to follow the progress as the injury mends, but one has to wonder just how much time is she spending getting these National Geographic-worthy shots.
Today we have a sandhill crane with two broken bones in her wing, an armadillo with a chunk gouged out of his shoulder, and a burrowing owl with a missing wing tip that need to be examined. All injuries attributed to “HBC”—hit by car. Every profession has its own vernacular or abbreviations for common terms. In wildlife rehabilitation we love our initials. Each species name is whittled down to four letters— a Sandhill Crane is SACR, a Yellow Crowned Night Heron is YCNH, a Purple Ovoid Oceanic Plover would be … well, you get the idea. Conditions are often shortened also: WNL (within normal limits), NSF (no significant findings), and my personal favourite, ADR (ain’t doin’ right). Those last ones in each category may or may not be official designations. So we remove the armadillo’s bandage to find he is healing well. This in itself is amazing. We don’t often see armadillos that have been injured instead of having been killed outright after a confrontation with a motor vehicle. Their initial defense is to hunker down when they hear a car or truck approach. When said sound gets closer, the armadillo jumps into the air in an attempt to startle the intruder and scare it away. This does not end well for the “little armored one” who generally loses in a battle of intimidation versus a machine.
We will continue to keep the wound clean, treat it with honey, and administer antibiotics until the lesion has resolved. But Farrah has to go get her camera to document the progress before we can continue. In the meantime, Charlotte County Animal Control Officer Shonelle arrives with a DOA (dead on arrival) from a GSW (gunshot wound). We may be good at what we do, but even we are rarely able to bring a bird back from the dead. This is a potential court case for animal cruelty. I will necropsy the animal and write up a report that may help elevate the unsub (unknown subject) to a perp (perpetrator). See, the criminal justice community has their own set of acronyms. I will do anything I can do to help prosecute someone who is intentionally inflicting pain on innocent animals.
An x-ray of the sandhill crane’s wing reveals the two broken bones are starting to mend and are still aligned pretty well. The prognosis is good that this bird will be able to fly and be releasable. The burrowing owl is not so lucky. His initial injury was not too bad; he had a broken bone at the tip of his wing. Unfortunately, the stress of being in captivity the first few days resulted in his self-mutilation and he did even more damage to his own wing. After that the wing tip had to be amputated. His cage was modified; he was monitored more closely and quickly placed outside with our other resident burrowing owls in an attempt to make him feel more at ease. He seems to be doing well out there and has not complained about the accommodations since.
PRWC performs many services. We are the human equivalent of a doctor’s office, hospital, nursing home, physical rehab facility, psychologist, and medical examiner all in one tidy (tiny) package. In addition to taking in injured and orphaned wildlife from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or later) daily, we have an incredible display of permanent residents (animals that have been injured too severely to be released) on exhibit seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Our gift shop manager, Brick, stocks items ranging from t-shirts to jewelry to toys. Many of the products sold in the gift shop are hand crafted by local artisans. Brick also does an excellent job with our newsletter (to which you can subscribe by becoming a member of PRWC) and our web site. Check out his handiwork at www.PeaceRiverWildlifeCenter.org. Unlike the rest of us, Brick’s talents do seem limitless. Given the way this article started, did I just call him stupid? (BTW, all names have been changed to protect the innocent.)