Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another different type of post...........

Well, if you've ever read the title page of this blog, you'll notice that it says I also discuss wildlife issues, particularly pertaining to Utah. Today, this is what I want to do. I have tried to educate those reading this blog that wildlife rehabilitators are NOT employees of their states wildlife agency or the USFW. We work with these groups and have to have permits issued by these agencies, but they do not employ us or financially support us in any way. In fact, in Utah, the state wildlife agency, the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is a 'thorn in our sides' and most of it's personnel have let us know they do not value our work, having come right out and said that to many of us personally and through their actions, or should I say lack thereof. The following is an example of just that.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from our wildlife people telling me that down at Lake Powell, in southern Utah, the reservoir was rising so fast that two nests with Great Blue Heron chicks were about to go underwater. They were going out on a boat to get the nestlings and wanted to know if I would take them. Of course, I told them yes. They brought me 5 nestlings the next day, late in the day. There had been 6, but for some reason, one had died. The heat down that way was terrible, way over the 100's so maybe that contributed to the death; I didn't see the body, so I'm just guessing.
By the time I got them, they were dehydrated so we started fluids and started giving them cut up fish, pushed into their mouths and down their throats. I kept them in a small 'holding' mew, sort of resembling a nest, with some privacy. This also would provide them with some sort of security, lowering their anxiety. We continued to feed them twice daily, pulling them one by one to ensure each got their fare share. After a couple of days, then we started giving them time outside to roam and look around with a netted ceiling so they couldn't get out accidentally.
When it was time, they moved into a larger enclosure with perches resembling the trees which their nest would have been built in. We tried to make it look as natural as possible. They loved it and by this time, they needed to 'branch' and move around, but still have the security of the nest to return to. They also were eating on their own by this time. All we had to do is provide several different bowls of fish for them and a good water source to wade. It was perfect.
We made the enclosure extra private and put up a type of burlap that was made to look like camouflage to give them more privacy through the open areas.
Now, keep in mind, we are feeding 5 very large birds, growing bigger every day. At this point, I have been sending my husband and grandson down to a local pond to fish everyday to feed these guys. I have also bought various types of seafood at the grocery store for them and large pieces of salmon. I need a steady supply of whole trout for these guys quick. I checked with the local DWR office and they could only give me about 3 pounds of chub one time. Well, that wasn't going to help and we couldn't catch enough fish daily to provide for them, so I checked with another rehabilitator in northern Utah. She rehabs a lot of water birds as she is near the Great Salt Lake. She told me I could buy fish from her and she would order enough for me. This was great, but there was only 1 problem. She is about 150 miles from me and although she could order me as much as I needed, I had no where to store many boxes of fish, so I could only take 3-4 #20 boxes at a time. That would mean running back and forth every few days 300 miles round trip. That wasn't going to work either, especially since it's baby season and I need to be here feeding around the clock. We worked it out a couple of times to do this, with volunteers shuttling things to me, but I had to come up with something else fast. Then I spoke with the new curator for Tracey Aviary in Salt Lake and he helped us out a couple of times as well, but that still meant going up to Salt Lake, or having one of my SL volunteers driving up to me, again, not really workable for the amount of time this rehab was going to take. I called the fish wholesaler who supplies both Tracy Aviary and the other rehabilitator up north and he was willing to sell me fish as well, but would not send it as far south as I am in Utah. I would still have to drive up to SL, solving nothing.
My volunteer Connie made a suggestion that at our local little pond might be a place to get more fish from people fishing but who didn't want to keep their fish. She suggested making a poster and putting it down there with our information, telling people what we needed the fish for and how to get in touch with us. This may help us for a little while, so I told her to make the poster and I would call DWR, letting them know what we were going to try to help with the fish problem.

So I call over to DWR. The first person I speak with, I know quite well. He tells me after awhile, he doesn't think I can do this. When I ask him why, he says he believe the 'rules' in the proclamation say that these fish cannot be donated by the people that catch them, but them must be consumed by the catcher. You've got to be kidding? So everyone out there reading this, tell all your fishing friends, according to DWR, once you catch your fish, you cannot do what you want with them.
He suggested I talked with some of the fisheries people, to which I told him, this was a law enforcement issue and I was 100% sure would vary to who you spoke with from day to day as with all DWR issues I have had to get answers for during the last 17 years. They can't agree from office to office.....sad.
So I call a law enforcement officer I know and he tells me, well, you know it's about who you ask. Yes, I do know this.
But he said as far as he was concerned, I should be able to take fish from anyone obtaining them legally to feed our states wildlife. But, he suggested I call the head law enforcement person in our region and check with him. Ok, so I did.
This guy tells me right up NO. He says" these fish are to be consumed by the catchers". But wait a minute, once they catch them, it's their right to use them how they wish. Again, he tells me I am wrong. So I cannot put a sign down at the fishing pond and I cannot ask these people to donate any fish for the Great Blue Herons. Now, these birds, had they not been orphaned, would be flying to lakes, catching these fish on their own, but I can't catch them myself or ask any people that fish but don't keep their fish, to feed these guys. You figure out how that makes any sense.
He said," well, these are Utah's fish", to which I responded," so are the birds and the fish is what they eat in the wild". Still, the answer is no. I can't believe this. The state, who doesn't help us in any way with rehab, won't even allow fish, legally caught, to be donated to feed it's own wildlife in rehab. IDIOTS!

Now, up north, not only have they allowed this, they actually collected the fish at one of their booths checking on fishing licenses and fish caught, turning everything over to another rehabilitator, which is the way it should be, but not in our region!
Then the guy tells me, well, maybe you shouldn't have taken them if you couldn't feed them. OMG, I just about lost it. I have no problem feeding them, I never said that. The problem is these idiots won't let me have access to the fish I need to feed them. The very agency everyone THINKS is suppose to take care of wildlife, refuses to allow me, the rehabilitator to obtain fish, through fishermen and women with valid licenses.
Then this same guy tells me, well you know Deb, you may have to euthanize them." OK, now I do loose it! "Like Hell", I tell him. That will NEVER happen! This will just continue to be a difficult situation, with no support from DWR, as usual, just to make this a little easier.

So folks, now you see what things are like in Utah as far as DWR and wildlife rehabilitation. It's a joke. Since then, I have been told, by someone I need to protect their identity, with the division, that the proclamation says no such thing about what needs to be done with the fish one catches. Surprise, surprise. There are a few good people with wildlife resources, but I tell you, I can count them on two hands and still have fingers left over.
These policies can be changed and the public HAS managed to have things changed throughout the years through public outcry and public meetings (RAC) in Utah. People need to educate themselves and then act. But the public is ignorant when it comes to wildlife and how injured wildlife gets the help they need or orphaned wildlife get the help they need as well. The public thinks the wildlife department takes care of this and although I have tried myself to educate people everywhere, as do all wildlife rehabilitators across the country, for it's this way in every state, people let it go in one ear and out the other. I just don't understand why.
You can help change things! Yes YOU.

Ok, so there you go and now you know. I've included some pictures so enjoy them and remember if you click on the picture you will get the bigger view.

Debbie

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Feathered brothers and sisters, you came to us broken and as you bled…….we saw you desperate, dehydrated, desiccated, diseased, distressed, emaciated, famished, frayed, frightened, helpless, hungry, ragged, ravenous, shaken, shocked, shot, sickly, stressed, stunned, tattered, thirsty, traumatized, torn, weary and wounded. Defiantly, you stood us off with your last breath as we tried to tend to you. We saw you come in as cute, naked, fuzzy, cuddly youth, as mischievous, defiant adolescents, as fierce, regal rulers of the sky and as cunning, maimed elders whose time on earth was almost done. You endeared yourselves to us, bit us, charmed us, footed us, delighted us, hissed at us, talked to us, mantled at us, and graced us with your presence.

Some of you mended and were able to go on your way, never looking back. Some of you were injured in ways that prevented you from going, so you stayed with us to teach us…….And we came to love you. Others were too far gone, and you went home - where you fly free from pain with the Great One. All of you have touched us, and we are changed because of you.

used with permission by Arlene Powers