Critter Chatter – Fall Freedom!
This is the time of year when many creatures are released from the Duck Pond Wildlife Center, although if the animals are old enough and sufficiently re-educated, releases also occur throughout the summer. Chipmunks and squirrels generally did not come out after mid-October, as their main natural food sources dwindled. This year’s fawns are still small and probably unable to survive the first winter on their own, so they will be kept for release in May. In August, the first to leave are opossums, followed by raccoons, skunks and foxes. To date, Don Cote and his volunteers have released nine of last year’s fawns, over a dozen possums, six skunks, thirteen red foxes and one gray fox. Several squirrels, skunks and 16 raccoons were transferred to another rehabilitation center, the latter having been fully inoculated with the parvo virus when they left the Duck Pond Center. Unfortunately, the other rehabilitation center lost quite a few raccoons to parvo, but we hope our transfers were protected from this highly contagious disease.
There are still 25-35 Canada geese and ducks on site, nine small fawns, the three lynx kittens I mentioned in August, one opossum that requires a veterinary assessment to determine if its vision is compromised, and several gray squirrels. . I asked Don if he would release the kittens together or separately. He explained that they will be released individually and in different places for several reasons: 1) they have to establish their own territories; 2) food resources must be taken into account; and 3) bobcats do not necessarily want or need company, even from their siblings; they tend to live solo, except during mating season.
I also wondered if there were any special site requirements for different species and if the time of day for the release mattered. Don said he looks for water nearby in all areas, whether it’s a swamp, pond, or an active creek or stream. Deer are usually out in the morning, foxes in the afternoon, all on an empty stomach so that they do not get sick during the trip and begin to actively search for food in nature.
Browsing through some of Carleen Cote’s columns, I found one from October 1996:
âThere are events in everyone’s life that are memorable. We will never forget one outing – that of our first fawn. May had arrived and we were looking for a site where the fawn would not be harassed and hopefully hunted. We discussed many sites before choosing one, finally realizing that there was no way to protect it forever from hunting. We had given him a second chance at life; it was up to the fields and the forests to run and frolic. We called the people who owned the property that we thought was a good release site. âYes,â they said, they would be delighted if the fawn was released on their land and would watch it to the best of their ability, alerting us if any problems arose.
âThe day of release has arrived. We loaded the deer into a specially constructed transport crate and set off. A dirt road led to the field where the deer would be released, but a rainy spring had turned it to mud. Despite the use of four-wheel drive, the wheels got stuck. The landowner and his son helped Donald slide the box off the truck and after transporting it on foot, the deer was released into an open field. As we made our way up the muddy trail to the truck, I glanced back. There, right behind us, was the deer. He followed us to the farm! The landowners later reported that deer visited them daily and had become very fond of Fruit Loops!
A reader recently asked what kind of articles she could donate to the Center. The âwish listâ always includes bleach, cleaning supplies, heavy-duty garbage bags, towels, dry dog ââand cat food (dye-free), canned dog and cat food ( no dye), paper towels, frozen berries (no syrup), birdseed, and even apples (no recently sprayed trees). Please note that leftovers, torn or opened bags of pet food cannot be accepted.
The Wildlife Care Center greatly appreciates the continued help of other rehabbers while Don and his longtime volunteer, Amy, take care of health issues. We ask that you check these websites to see if there is a rehabilitation center closer to you to help make creature care at Duck Pond more manageable: www.mainevetmed.org/wildlife-rehabilitation or www.maine .gov / ifw / fish-wildlife / fauna / life-with-wildlife / injured-orphan-animals / rehabilitation.html. Thank you!
Donald CÃ´tÃ© operates the Duck Pond Wildlife Care Center on the road. 3 in Vassalboro. It is a federally and state licensed not-for-profit rehabilitation center that is supported by its own resources and outside donations. Mailing Address: 1787 North Belfast Ave., Vassalboro, ME 04989 TEL: (207) 445-4326 EMAIL: [email protected]
âBy Jayne Winters, Member of the South China Maine Natural Resources Council, Maine
Critter chatter also appears monthly in the City line newspaper.