“You’re a nurse. Can you help?”
Having just graduated from college and a newlywed, we moved to a rural setting. Within several weeks, I was being asked by neighbors,”You’re a nurse; can you help? ” The first patients were domestic, such as the dashhound who tore an artery in his foot climbing up a mobile home step, a cat who had a fish bone lodged in his throat, and the delivery of a litter of puppies. All of these were given immediate first aid and then referred to a local veterinarian. As word spread, patients then became songbirds, water birds, squirrels, foxes, etc., and and all coming with the prefix, “Your are a nurse; can you help?
After about one year of this type of care, our first owl was brought to us! The owl had been poisoned, suffered eye damage, and had a lengthy recovery period of eight months. “Tough Toes,” the barred owl, was sucessfully released in Tiger Creek Preserve after his recovery. Tough Toes rehabilitation became the inspiration and jumpstart for our wildlife endeavors.
Having learned of the necessary permits for this work, followed by a great deal of research, seminars, and permit obtainment for this endeavor, our first wildlife enclosures were the garage and utility room! We have now (after countless dollars and hours) 14 walk-in enclosures, a flight cage, and a bird and mammal room. We have established a rescue and release program with patients such as bald eagles and all other birds of prey, pelicans, wood storks, sandhill cranes, songbirds, deer, otters, squirrels, foxes, opossums, and reptiles, to name a few! We have ongoing community educational programs, ongoing maintenance of the facility, and we treat approximately 300 plus wildlife per year.