June 11, 2013

Wildlife rehabilitator offers experiences, tips

COOPERSVILLE — Bear cubs, fawns, owls, hawks ... Donna Fletcher has cared for more than 1,000 animals. 

A licensed wildlife rehabilitator, she knows what to do — and knows that, often, the best thing is to leave the animal alone.

Fletcher explained that people sometimes think an animal is in danger when it is really not. 

“Most wild animals and birds do not need rescuing,” she said.

Human interference can create danger for the animal.

For example, a fawn has a scent that can be detected only by its mother. So even if it is left alone, it is usually quite safe from predators, unless they happen to stumble over it. 

On the other hand, if a human approaches the fawn — drawn to the sight of a cute baby animal — a dog or coyote might later follow the scent of the person, doing so simply out of curiosity. 

Thus, the person would have inadvertently led the predator to the fawn.


Fletcher also noted that if ducklings are left in the wild, those that have lost their mother are often “adopted” and cared for by other adults of the same species. 

Many rehabilitators therefore recommend removing ducklings from immediate danger of cars or pets and placing them in the nearest habitat close to water, thereby maximizing chances for adoption.

“I have witnessed such an adoption with Canada geese,” Fletcher said. “The two adoptive parents surrounded the young goslings and moved them to the river.” 

She enjoyed watching the new family set off together, calling it “a rewarding sight.”

Most importantly, Fletcher says, call a professional who has the training and experience to determine whether an animal really needs rescuing and what should be done if it does.


As a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, she has to responded to such calls — leading her to many adventures. 

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