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Creepy, Crawly (but cute!) Baby Wildlife Find Refuge in California

The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center enters baby season, its busiest time of year

  • A baby long-tailed weasel is currently receiving care at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center. The Fund for Animals/The HSUS

  • Baby skunks receive a dot of food coloring on their heads for identification so they can be monitored for weight gain.  The Fund for Animals/The HSUS

  • A great horned owl chick attempts to make himself big and scary. The Fund for Animals/The HSUS

  • A baby garter snake is recovering after receiving a bite from a cat. The Fund for Animals/The HSUS

May 28, 2013 update

Thirty two skunk patients are currently on-site at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center. We need help returning these skunks to the wild!

Our skunk patients are thriving and must be released soon. Watch them in their temporary habitat at our center»

If you live on or own property in Southern California and are a skunk lover, please contact The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center for a Wildlife Release Site application. Per state law, rescued wildlife must be returned within three miles of the original rescue site, and we must have the land owner’s approval to perform the release.

Contact Kim D’Amico, Animal Care Specialist, at 760-789-2324 for more information on how you can help wildlife this year and enjoy these beautiful creatures as they make themselves at home on your land.

More than 50 percent of the patients that The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif., will treat this year will be brought to the center between April and June.

This time of year is known affectionately as “baby season” by volunteers and staff, who work round-the-clock to care for the variety of wildlife that comes through the doors.

“Baby season is a common term used by wildlife rehabbers,” says center director, Ali Crumpacker. “Not only do we start to receive orphaned babies that need hand rearing, we also get the parents that run themselves ragged looking for enough food to feed their offspring.”

So far this season, more than 20 skunk babies have been brought to the center for much needed care, and Crumpacker expects that number to reach 50 by the end of May. Other current baby wildlife residents include snakes, coyotes, weasels, and owls. With baby season for hawks and bobcats soon to begin, it’s safe to say that the number of animals in need of care at the center will continue to grow over the coming days and weeks.

Join our efforts, become a volunteer»

However, center staff works diligently to educate the public and to keep families together, if possible. “Whenever a new baby patient is brought in, we first ask, ‘Did you see a parent or do you know where the den is?’ If the citizen gives us information that can lead to a reunion of a parent and young, we do our best to get them back together.”

If the animal is sick, or if it is believed to be truly orphaned, it is checked into the center and provided with the best possible care. As the diverse range of species currently in the center’s care highlights, it doesn’t matter if the animal is widely considered to be creepy or cute, it still deserves quality care. As Crumpacker stresses, “Creepy can be cute!”

In the case of baby skunks, it’s considered a good sign when they spray a volunteer. Crumpacker says that, “It means he is big and strong and flexing his muscles. Literally.” It also means that he gets to move out of the medical center and into a pre-release enclosure.

All wildlife patients that grow up, heal, and demonstrate they are ready to return to the wild are released within 3 miles of the location where they were initially rescued. This is done in an effort to keep the natural population in balance. “If mom chose that spot to have her babies, then we don’t want to question her decision.”

The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, operated by The Fund for Animals in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States, rehabilitates wildlife species that many other rehabbers do not. In fact, the center is the only facility in the surrounding three counties that provides care to coyotes, bobcats, and snakes, all native species to southern California.

If you find a baby animal that you believe is orphaned, please contact a licensed wildlife rehabber in your area before you attempt a rescue. Many species do not guard their young during the entire day, and it is best to confirm that the baby needs rescuing before removing it from the wild. To find a rehabber near you, visit http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.html.

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