Message from the Board
Snow is on the ground, holidays are around the corner, and we at Kawartha Wildlife Centre are reflecting on our third year of operations and recognizing a cumulative total of 2000 patients so far! This is a humbling number; a huge milestone in our journey as an organization and a cause for celebration.
But if I am being honest, it doesn’t feel like a celebration. From the outside, working with wildlife has an allure of excitement. But three years in, the reality is far from it; the trauma and sadness we see take their toll as well as the constant-ness: feeding, cleaning, washing, medicating, repeating, and then repeating, and then repeating…
There is always so much to do, so much more we are asked to do, we struggle sometimes to appreciate how truly remarkable it has been for KWC to have achieved this growth and success amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, followed by an outbreak of avian influenza, compounded by record inflation. These challenges were/are not kind; our budget, though never robust, has actually shrunk over the last two years and we are find ourselves struggling, and yet the patients keep coming: 192 patients in 2019, 542 in 2020, 670 in 2021, and 699 (and counting!) this year.
We would not be the organization we are today, nor be recognizing the milestone we have achieved without recognizing the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our small team of dedicated volunteers led by our Executive Director Lorna Wilson. Thank you Lorna and our team of volunteers for all that you do to help wildlife in need! For those 2000+ patients, we made all the difference in the world.
As we continue our work and plan for the year ahead, supporting our growing wildlife care operations with a dynamic and growing Board remains our priority. We are pleased to acknowledge that we have recruited two new Board members: Jeff Kohut has been appointed as Board Treasurer. Jeff is an Assurance Manager at Grant Thornton and brings years of experience in the Not-for-Profit Sector as well as a keen interest in public service, including his ongoing work with the Armed Forces of Canada.
Hallie Anthony has been appointed to a new role on the Board, Director of Communications and Strategic Planning. Hallie is the Manager of Communications and Content in the Public Affairs department at the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), a not-for-profit, responsible for leading various initiatives that support the association’s strategic goals. Welcome Hallie and Jeff, we are delighted to have you join our team; we can’t thank you enough for donating your time and expertise to our small, and growing organization.
Despite the challenges of the past three years, we look forward to 2023 with solid success and hard-won experience at our back. In 2023 we will continue to keep our patients at the forefront of everything we do, while also remembering that we can’t do it alone. We need you!
If you are able, please consider donating to help wildlife in need. Thank you for helping Keep Kawartha Wild! Sincerely,
Chair, Board of Directors
Though the number of patients coming through our doors is ever increasing, unfortunately this year donations have been lower than ever. We would be much closer to meeting our end of year goal if just 100 people donated $100 each. We know this is a big ask, and we fully appreciate how difficult this year has been on many Canadians; we are so incredibly grateful for the support we have received from members of this community. There are many ways to support KWC, check out our new Partnership Package! we've also updated our wish list, and memberships for 2023 are available now!
Join the KWC Family!
2023 Memberships are now available! Be a voice for wildlife in critical need and help us #KeepKawarthaWild!
While the North American Porcupine is not an unfamiliar patient to us, this was the first year we faced the challenge of raising orphans. Porcupines are notoriously difficult to raise in captivity, because much like other herbivores, such as rabbits, they have very sensitive digestive tracks. They are technically born precocial, fully furred, and mobile with open eyes and sharp quills within just a few hours, but they generally rely on their mothers for the first 4-6 months of their lives.
Our first orphan, patient 22-420, arrived in the middle of spring at just a day old. The vulnerable newborn was in critical condition, found beside their deceased mother at the side of the road. This is an unfortunately common demise for adult porcupines; with very few natural predators, their biggest threat comes from vehicles on roads. Two more orphans arrived later through the year, and while we cant be certain, it's very likely they were both left alone at vulnerable ages when their mothers faced a similar fate.
Did you know?
Porcupines have internal reproductive organs, so without an x-ray (or a rather intrusive exam), its impossible to determine sex. In the case of an injured adult, we would need imaging to tell us if the patient were pregnant, in order to medicate them safely and accordingly. Luckily for orphans, it doesn't affect their care or how we treat them, so we don't really need to know.
The newborn was quite a challenge, first to keep stable and then to get their digestive track moving. Because 22-420 was orphaned so young, without the critical bacteria needed from their mothers colostrum, it took over a month before their digestive track was reliably healthy. Once they were feeling better, our Wildlife Hero summer campers actually got the rare opportunity to meet our patient! Our Google Nest video camera allows us to monitor patients remotely, so our campers get to safely 'meet' them and learn more about our native species, what brings them in for rehabilitative care, and how we take care of them at the centre.
When patient 22-619 arrived later in the summer, they were already about two months old, so they had much more time with mom and benefitted from a stable gut because of it. This orphan came to us after getting entangled in some netting. The finders searched high and low, but couldn't find any adults around, and were rightly concerned the young porcupine would struggle if released on their own. At this point newborn 22-420 was getting big, and almost ready for an independent life in the wild. The only missing piece was familiarity with their own species, having been orphaned so young. The arrival of 22-619 presented an opportunity, and the orphans were introduced for some much needed company. It was quickly evident our latest arrival was desperate for the companionship, another confirmation it was the right call to bring them in for rehabilitative care.
Our third porcupette arrived right in the middle of November- a late fall surprise in even worse condition than the newborn was at intake. Patient 22-688 was about the size of a 1.5-2 month old porcupine, but completely emaciated. So weak that their body was starting to shut down, it was very clear it had been weeks, if not longer, since this little one was in the care of their mother. Our team of volunteers has been working tirelessly to stabilize this poor animal, slowly introducing a highly digestible elemental formula, carefully syringe fed with lots of fluids and electrolytes. This porcupines prognosis is extremely guarded, with a long road to a hopeful recovery in the spring, possibly even later.
We have updated our list of needed equipment, supplies and household items. If you are able to support our patients with any of these goods, please send us a message or email to arrange drop off or if you have any questions!
Incredibly gifted local artist Brian Luloff has generously donated twelve hand crafted birch deer in support of our wildlife patients! These decorative pieces are quite large, from 30-50" inches
Order online and pick up at our centre in Ennismore, or Free local* delivery available for all web store orders over $200 placed before December 18th!
Brian Luloff, recently retired from a lengthy and successful career in the nuclear industry but certainly not giving up on life-long learning, has taken up woodcarving and wood burning, donating his pieces to charities around Ontario to support important causes. Thank you Brian for donating your skills to help Keep Kawartha Wild!
While many hunker down, hibernate, or migrate south for the cold, winter is still an active time for many species of wildlife in Ontario. Prevention is always the best medicine for wildlife at risk, and avoiding a collision is usually safer for you and your passengers. There are a few ways drivers can prepare themselves for wildlife on the roads, and stay safe any time of the year:
Watch your speed. If you cannot stop within the visible distance ahead of you, you’re going too fast. That means your speed will have to be variable depending on the road, conditions, and time of day.
Be extra diligent between dusk and dawn. Not only is visibility at its poorest, but most movement from our wild neighbours happens under the safety of darkness. Many birds migrate at night, and nocturnal owls are active at roadsides looking for mice. Many mammals both large and small are active at night, and most lizards and frogs are nocturnal. Interestingly, many species have shown to adopt a more nocturnal lifestyle in order to avoid human conflicts.
Watch the sides of the road for movement and eye-shine. Not all species have reflective corneas like your dog or cat. White-tailed Deer eyes reflect red in low light, and some animals eyes can’t be seen at all, so don’t rely on eye-shine alone to spot them. Watch for shadows or movement on the sides or on the road.
If you see something - tap the horn to alert the animal ahead of you, turn on your hazard lights or tap the brakes to alert drivers behind you incase you need to stop or slow down.
Don’t swerve! Let off the gas and hit the brakes, but keep the vehicle straight to avoid collisions, or hitting the animal as it flees.
If you can't avoid hitting an animal on the road, and if it’s safe to do so, pull over to check its condition. If it’s alive it will very likely need either rehabilitative care from an Authorized Wildlife Custodian, or humane euthanasia.
Late at Night
Many species that are active during the winter are also nocturnal, so you are more likely to encounter them after dark, often late at night. Birds, especially raptors like owls, are incredibly sensitive to inflammation around the brain and eyes; their chances of recovery diminish the more time passes between collision and treatment. We do our best to respond to these situations as quickly as possible, when feasible, we can arrange intakes after hours and late at night when deemed necessary by our Wildlife Care Team. Please contact us as soon as possible if you've found an injured wild animal.
It can take days for an injured animal to succumb to injuries on the side of a road; if you cannot reach an Authorized Wildlife Custodian or reasonably contain and transport the animal yourself, please call the local police detachment or municipal supported animal services. They can usually dispatch the animal and prevent prolonged suffering.
In the News
Have you ever wanted to help create and produce video for television and media? We need your help!
We have an incredible opportunity with our local Rogers Media broadcast to share KWC educational programming to over 7000 local viewers.
Contact us if you are interested and available to lend your talents and time!