Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012-02-28 "Calling Critter Caregivers; Wildlife classes at Suisun center seeking students" by Donna Beth Weilenman from "The Benicia Herald"
Each spring, hundreds of baby birds and animals need a little — or a lot — of human care to survive. But without training, well-meaning people can do more harm than good, a local expert says.
That’s why the Suisun Marsh Natural History Association will again offer its basic wildlife care training for prospective volunteers who are willing to work at the association’s wildlife center.
“If you would like to learn how to care for wildlife and are able to volunteer some of your time, you may discover a whole new skill which can benefit both yourself and our local wildlife,” said Monique Liguori, executive director.
The two-day class will teach a prospective volunteer about wildlife identification, basic care and husbandry and medical protocols, Liguori said.
More than 200 species of wild birds and animals have been handled by the association’s wildlife center. “The work is always challenging and satisfying,” Liguori said.
Some residents may want to learn about animal care, but may prefer to do their volunteering at home. Because some animal babies thrive better in a home environment, Liguori said the wildlife center will train those people so they can provide the necessary specialized care.
“Baby mammals do best when they can receive a dedicated focus and quiet surroundings,” Liguori said. “The spring and summer influx of animals at the wildlife center does not present the best atmosphere for this activity.”
The wildlife center sends those babies home with center volunteers, who may find themselves serving as surrogate parents to infant raccoons, jackrabbits, squirrels or opossums.
The wildlife center has had a baby in-home care program for some time, Liguori said. “We would like to expand this activity to include more of the public.”
An at-home volunteer would be asked to handle only one species at a time, and wouldn’t have to handle more baby animals than is a comfortable number, Liguori said.
“Your only pre-qualifications for this are patience and good common sense about animal husbandry,” she said. She explained that “animal husbandry” means feeding, care and cleanliness.
“We will provide the training, reference material and, of course, the babies,” she said.
The center has species specialists available to guide a volunteer who has questions about an animal’s care, she said.
“It is hard to convey the feeling of satisfaction that you can have by nursing a new critter into the world,” Liguori said.
“Not only do you receive the experience of direct contact, but you can know that nature has been assisted by your actions.”
The center’s basic wildlife class, for those willing to volunteer, will take place from 7-10 p.m. March 6 and 8.
Those interested in at-home care volunteering may call the center to register.
The wildlife center, 1171 Kellog St., Suisun City, can be reached at 707-429-4295. Its website is www.suisunwildlife.org.

VOLUNTEERS at Suisun Wildlife Center, right, release a group of kites back into the wild following rehabilitation. One kite, below, paused for one final look back at his caregivers. Suisun Wildlife Center

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