WASHINGTON BOROUGH, Pa. (WHTM) — Volunteers are building new outdoor caging at Raven Ridge Wildlife Center. The deluxe accommodations are a welcome addition, especially right now.
“It’s been very busy,” said Tracie Young, Chief Rehabilitator for Raven Ridge. “Springtime is our busiest time of the season because everything is having babies. So we’ve had a lot of storms come through, a lot of flooding, this is the time of year when people start trimming trees, cutting trees down, and that’s when we start getting calls for orphaned, injured, or abandoned wildlife.”
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Tracie says one reason they’re getting more animals is simply that more people know there’s help available. “When the public finds out there actually is a wildlife rehabilitation center to take injured, orphaned, and abandoned wildlife, they have somewhere to take the animal.”
“There are some animals we don’t rehabilitate, like reptiles, for example, but we can still get you through what you need to do, what not to do, and we can get you in touch with a rehabilitator that can help you.”
“We now specialize in the birds of prey, such as owls, vultures, hawks, and eagles, we also specialize in the rabies vector species,” says Tracie. “We’re covering 17 counties just for birds of prey alone.”
“we’re not able to take in the squirrels, bunnies, or opossums, because it’s not fair to have predator and prey in the same area.”
Rabies vector species include just about every mammal except opossums. Right now they’re looking after three foxes kits and five baby raccoons. (All numbers are subject to change without notice.) Their cages both inside and out are all carefully labeled “RVS” – Rabies Vector Species. but while rabies is always a concern, their bigger worry right now is another, more prevalent disease – avian flu.
“We are testing every bird of prey, every waterfowl,” says Tracie, “And now the virus is jumping to mammals, so now we’re testing every mammal that comes in too. It’s an expense we didn’t plan on in the budget, but in order to keep our wildlife safe, and our patients and residents, it’s a necessity.”
They also check for West Nile Virus, and lead poisoning, particularly in the apex predators like hawks and owls.
Right now their patients include a baby great horned owl, which is still a rather small fluffball, far behind most other GHO chicks. “This guy here is a late hatch,” explains Tracie.
There’s also an adult screech owl, who’s smaller than the great horned owl chick. His main course of treatment right now – eyedrops.
“He was actually hit by a truck,” says Tracie, “So that’s why his left eye is green, it’s healing. It’s like an anti-inflammatory pain medicine.”
They also have ducklings. They get a lot of ducklings. 150 last year, “And the year before that I believe it was 187,” says Tracie.
Tracie also introduced us to Raven Ridge’s first-ever raven, who will probably become a permanent resident. “He has some eye damage, he was hit by a car, so we need to we’re going to work with him as an ambassador,” says Tracie. (Don’t expect to see him as an animal ambassador too soon. He needs to get used to all kinds of human weirdness first like someone stepping into his cage and pointing a camera at him.)
The new caging is going up just in time. As we were getting ready to leave, a new patient arrived, a baby screech owl attacked by a cat. Tracie gave the little bird with a loud voice a quick examination before taking him off to start medications. Another hungry mouth, more space taken up-it’s no wonder Tracie is grateful to see the new caging.
“We have fantastic volunteers, that are starting to build cages, expand the caging, fix the caging, so we’re very very lucky.”