Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back to the Wild

Wednesday, September 12, 2007
It's a pleasure to have KatDoc post here. She's a veterinarian and all-purpose live-wire. We've birded with KatDoc in West Virginia and Ohio, and are hoping to lure her to North Dakota soon. Check out her amazing blog,"Katdoc's World," where she informs and entertains. The illustrious, comment-mongering Boston Terrier Chet Baker keeps KatDoc on speed dial for his most trivial complaints. (He's fit as a fiddle now, KD!) Here she goes:

"Back to the Wild:" No, I'm not talking about where BOTB has gone. "Back to the Wild" is the name of a wildlife rehabilitation center in Castalia, Ohio. Its driving force, Mona Rutger, was awarded Animal Planet's "Hero of the Year" award in 2006 for her tireless work in wildlife rehabilitation. She and her facilities are amazing.

When Bill asked me to fill a guest spot on his blog while he was away, I thought "How can I possibly compete with his fabulous bird photographs, using my little point-and-shoot camera with its tiny 4x zoom lens?" Then, I remembered I had planned a visit to Mona's open house after the OOS symposium at Lakeside, Ohio. Even I should be able to get photos of birds if they are nailed to the perch!

The rehab center had 6 or 8 Bald Eagles on site the day I visited. One, their program bird, is blind from West Nile virus, and so of course cannot be returned to the wild. Two were in a flight cage, getting their wing muscles back in shape in preparation for release, while others were housed in the aviary. I'm not sure of the status of this particular bird, though the ultimate goal for every creature taken in by Mona's crew is to get them "back to the wild."

This Red-tailed Hawk, a recent admission, was in a clinic cage. Others were in the aviary or in the smaller flight cage used for hawks. As you might imagine, all this construction is not cheap. Birds must be housed with their own species, with sufficient room, and in a manner which both prevents escape and yet protects them from harm. Flight cages are particularly problematic. They require a lot of materials and take up a lot of space, yet are essential for getting birds back in shape before they are released.

This is the first Short-eared Owl I have ever seen. They also had barred, barn, great horned, eastern screech and saw-whet owls.

Mona doesn't limit her care to raptors or even only to birds. She had everything from a blind American toad to foxes, bobcats, song birds, herons, snakes, and salamanders. As you might imagine, most of the animals were there because of human-based problems. Birds may have collided with power lines, been struck by cars, or even shot, while mammals are frequently turned over after someone mistakenly tries to make a pet of them. Imprinted animals usually cannot be released, and so find a permanent home educating people about Ohio's wildlife.

To learn more about "Back to the Wild" or to make a donation to this worthy cause, visit their website at I will have additional photos on my blog, this week.

Guest Blogger Kathi, aka KatDoc

Thanks, KatDoc! You da bomb--JZ


On September 12, 2007 at 11:39 PM Susan Gets Native said...

Good job, Kathi!

This post was awesome, because it not only shows an organization doing great things, but it also touches on the hard cold facts of running a rescue organization. Somehow, you have to find the funding to keep the animals safe, fed, sheltered and treated.
If you have a "favorite" animal, there is a rescue organization out there who needs help. Fuzzy mammals, tiny songbirds, big raptors (ahem), open your wallet. Give early and give often!

On September 13, 2007 at 10:35 AM Anonymous said...

Great blog and great shots. We readers are indeed fortunate to have so many articulate bloggers out there. Thanks