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  • National Moth Week 2015: Central Florida July 24, 2015
    Well, another year has passed and we are in the midst of National Moth Week. It started back in 2012 and I have reported on moths I find at my place each year. In keeping with that tradition, I am reporting this year on some different moths that have made an appearance at my place […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photo […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Island Comeback July 17, 2015
    I have a tussock; that is a floating island in my pond.  The tussock appeared on its own in September 2011 and has sometimes disappeared at the start of winter, such as back in 2013 and again in 2014. Thankfully my floating island has reappeared as spring turns to summer each year.  I am grateful […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Unplanting for the Pollinators July 16, 2015
    We focus so much on “planting” for pollinators, but there are times when we should be removing plants in order to support our pollinators. You ask, “How could removing plants possibly help our pollinators, don’t they need the plants to survive?” The answer is “Yes, they do need plants to survive.” They need specific plants […] We love hearing from you! Pleas […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • The Dizzying World of Hummingbirds July 14, 2015
    During the summer, I get the gleeful feeling my cabin is part of a huge merry-go-round. The innermost portion of the revolving machine, where the calliope is housed, is the cabin, which stays still. Normally the portion of the merry-go-round that small children and those young at heart, ride, is filled with lions, tigers, bears and horses, […] We love hearin […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Garden Royalty, Dragonfly Style July 10, 2015
    Always on the hunt for new encounters in my beautiful wildlife garden to blog about, I was down in the pond area peeking under leaves and flowers to see if I could find any new-to-me species of interest.  I noticed a big dragonfly swooping over the pond.  Because of the large size, I automatically figured […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to se […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Specks of Spiders July 3, 2015
    Do you wipe webs off your plant leaves?  A few months back in late 2014 I had noticed some webbing on my Meyer Lemon tree.  “Meyer” lemon is a hybrid between a true lemon and mandarin orange and it is one of the non-native “cash crops” a.k.a. edibles that grace my beautiful wildlife garden.  I […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the be […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Did that Cocoon Just Walk Away? June 19, 2015
    I love when something in my garden is being chewed on.  It means I am providing habitat and food for some species.  Needless to say, I got quite excited when I was down by the gate recently and I spotted a particular Sawtooth Blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus) plant that looked all lacy. I have hundreds of […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • The Box Turtle In The Garden June 17, 2015
    There is a precious, little animal inside that shell, his head sticking out of the house on his back, like an old man. They come out during wet weather. If it is raining, I can pretty well count on finding one trying to cross the road, no matter where my travels take me. I’ve made […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photo […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Finding butterflies in my wildlife garden June 16, 2015
    The month of June is already shaping up to be a productive time for the butterflies that are supported by my beautiful wildlife garden.  As I was weeding and watering my veggie garden, a lovely Clouded Sulphur butterfly gracefully glided onto a patch of clover at my feet and deposited a single egg.  I bring […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to […]
    Judy Burris

#GardenChat

Where The Wildlife Goes

“If you talk to the animals
They will talk to you
and you will know each other.
If you do not talk to them,
You will not know them,
And what you do not know
You will fear.
What one fears one destroys.”
- Chief Dan George

I am a gardener not a wildlife expert. Yesterday, when our new sweet baby squirrel friend was found clinging soaked and shivering to the rocks near our pond the outlook seemed dire. Gently lifting his bedraggled body, I sent our youngest son running for a t-shirt to wrap it in. A quick call to our local vet yielded the phone number of a local man, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, living just 10 minutes from our home. I phoned Gary who gave me urgent care instructions and told me that if the wee one was still alive at 6 p.m. Gary would take him in. Until then, it was critical to keep the babe warm with a heating pad and provide Pedialyte for hydration.

Sleeping soundly wrapped and warm.

After an hour the patient was dry,warm and curled up into a ball sleeping soundly. His shallow breathing becoming deep and regular. Time to see if he would drink. After a failed first attempt with an infant syringe, I made a quick trip to the store for a bottle. It was a bit large, but he seemed to make do. His afternoon was spent sleeping and waking in regular intervals with “feedings” in between. At 7 p.m. it was time to deliver him to the expert for true medical care.

A truly amazing moment.

Gary Zimmerman and his wife Trish are class II licensed wildlife rehabilitators and the owners of the Black Creek Wildlife Station, Inc. Gary met me at the door of his converted 1850 barn which serves as triage for sick and orphaned wildlife. I was struck at once by his easy demeanor and when he tucked the baby squirrel into his flannel shirt any and all doubts were erased. Gary and I chatted for almost 40 minutes as he shared about what he does and the challenges he and other wildlife experts are facing.

Gary and his wife Trish live along Black Creek. In Gary’s rural area alone, increased use of pesticides and herbicides are affecting local creeks and streams where water fowl were once released. Mature evergreens and trees, a vital part of the habitat along the creek have been cut down to make way for swimming pools and lawns. What’s even more amazing… all of the wildlife release sites on the east side of our city have been leveled for new construction. Yes, ALL. With the natural habitats and secondary release sites eliminated where does wildlife go once its ready to be re-introduced to the wild? His answer, “The dump.”

Of the 750 acres belonging to the landfill, roughly 165 are dedicated for current and future refuse. The rest, with the efforts of Gary and other volunteers, is being restored as a natural wildlife habitat complete with bluebird boxes and more. Who knew?! Gary informed me that he’s released over 60 animals in the last year to our local landfill; including owls, a red-tail hawk, rabbits, a fox and next…our squirrel. I must confess I had not an inkling that our local landfill was working to establish a safe haven for wildlife. How ironic that land holding so much of our material waste is the same ground used as a safe depository for some of our most treasured wildlife… I have a lot to learn.

12 comments to Where The Wildlife Goes

  • Followed your treats yesterday. So glad that it worked out, and good to read the larger story here.

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden was built on the site of an ash dump. Today it’s a destination for birders, especially in the Native Flora Garden during seasonal migrations.

  • AW….I’m so glad you found him and saved him. What a sweet little guy. He must have gotten lost from the nest, he looks too tiny to have been out on his own already. But I know he was in good, loving hands!

  • Diane

    God Bless those people…we need to stop tearing down the woods. It’s happening in to many places across the country.St. Francis will have a special place for you in heaven.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    Thank you for your kind words. I was amazed yesterday when talking to Gary to find that several “odd” species of birds have been spotted in our area. The most unusual being an endangered Pippin! With habitats so drastically reduced, many birds have changed not only migration patterns, but habitats as well!

  • Lisa Gustavson

    This poor little guy’s mom was hit by a car at the end of our driveway just days earlier. We had suspected she was pregnant, when he appeared hungry and shivering days later we knew for sure. I think there may have been another babe that was killed by a neighborhood cat. :(

  • Lisa Gustavson

    It’s really interesting how people don’t equate a healthy environment with wildlife. Not only are they fascinating to watch, but there presence is vital for our fragile eco-system to remain balanced. When habitats are lost, we are losing much more than the presence of animals! I’m so thankful for the caring and dedication of people like Gary.

  • So glad you found the little one! I was a wildlife rehabilitator for years. It’s often a lot of sleepless nights (especially in spring with many mouths…some of them nocturnal…that need to be fed), and quite expensive. Most facilities find it difficult in the current economic climate to sustain their operations, as the majority run primarily on donations from the public. Most will often accept donations of feed, blankets, towels, and cleaning supplies. Most people don’t realize there are such facilities in their area until an event such as this, but they’re definitely worthy of our support.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    I couldn’t agree more! We were fortunate that Gary lived so close by and was willing to accept our squirrel baby. Just an hour before we arrived he’d also taken in an orphaned baby fox. His barn was already housing injured waterfowl. Donations of time, materials and money are crucial to his organization and others like it. I’ll gladly donate and continue to raise awareness. :-)

  • What a beautiful post. I watch and write about wildlife in NYC (you might be surprised – we’ve had coyotes in Central Park this winter!), and am becoming interested in the challenges that face our local animal rehabilitators. Thank you for writing this.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    After learning more from Gary yesterday, nothing surprises me when it comes to wildlife sightings. I’m happy to hear there’s interest and attention being given to the plight of our wildlife and the people caring for it! THANK YOU! :-)

  • This is exactly why it’s so important to support your local wildlife rehabilitator however you can. They work really hard for very little money. They are certainly heroes to me! Great job, Lisa. That little guy chose the right yard to get found in!

  • Lisa Gustavson

    Oh thank you , Carole. :-) It was an experience that has forever changed me and our family. We plan to raise awareness for the hard work these dedicated people are doing as well as volunteer in any way we can. :-)

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