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  • National Invasive Species Awareness February 27, 2015
    It is National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015.  Somehow the memo that came to my neck of the woods didn’t highlight the “AWARENESS” keyword in the promotional name.  As a result, it seems the invasive species around here thought it was an invitation to move in and celebrate…like Mardi Gras.  HARUMMPH!!!! Early in the week […] We love hearing from you! […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Invasives and Nuance February 26, 2015
    Invasives and Nuance I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), and we finally broke up for good this year. The opening photo shows C. perfoliatum’s cousin, Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum). It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, so I thought maybe it’s a good time to be open about my experience of […] We love heari […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Where Do Spiders Go in Winter February 25, 2015
    Do spiders hibernate in winter? Do spiders come inside your house in winter? Where do spiders go in winter? These are questions I’m frequently asked by our readers and also from audiences at conferences and workshops as I travel to speak about Ecosystem Gardening around the country. So lets take a look at how spiders […] We love hearing from you! Please clic […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers February 24, 2015
    Beautiful patterns, holes in tree bark, looking like a sort of Morse Code, is not the work of Martians leaving us a message, or wood boring insects. These holes are the work of a brightly colored, medium sized woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius. The photo, above, is a cluster of holes (called sapwells) that I discovered less […] We […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Dreaming of Spring February 23, 2015
      I think it’s safe to say that those of us who do not live in Florida are sick and tired of shoveling snow this winter. I for one am dreaming of Spring in a big way! So I was looking through some of my photos from years gone by and thought I would share […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us know what you […]
    Judy Burris
  • Monarchs for President’s Day February 22, 2015
    The long President’s Day weekend, 2015 found me camping at a favorite spot in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains, Leo Carrillo State Beach. This campground at the far north end of Malibu includes its own private beach, a pristine cove on the Pacific Ocean.  To the east of CA’s Route 1 (known also as the […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Bluebirds Staking Claim February 20, 2015
    It’s a brisk day here in Central Florida with record lows hovering around the freezing mark.  The birds are in full flurry, tanking up on the various berries and fruits that are available for winter dining in my native plant garden. I was pleased to see the Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are back house hunting […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Gardening for the Birds in the Desert February 17, 2015
    What do desert birds need? Same as every living thing on earth needs, food, water and a place to live. So after you put in a bird bath for the drinking water what can you do to attract birds to the garden? Bird feeders are one easy answer, but you often see a number of […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us […]
    Jacqueline Soule
  • In the Garden, the Eagle has Landed February 13, 2015
    As I looked up to the sky, the vultures were flying overhead in full force.  I suspect the remains of some dropped prey may have been in the 3-acre lot across the street.  Vultures in my neighborhood are a routine affair. I live within a mile (as the crow flies) of a wildlife management area […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beau […]
    Loret T. Setters

#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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