|Hundreds of baby mammals, like these|
raccoons, are orphaned each spring when
their mothers are trapped and relocated
or destroyed. (Photo: Brandi Postma)
As wildlife rehabilitators, we’re often accused of “interfering with nature”. Many believe that we should just let nature take its course; the injured bird will provide food for a fox; the injured deer will pass and be scavenged by other animals. While there is no doubt that nature can be pretty harsh, there are a lot of reasons why we at Hope for Wildlife feel that interfering is a good thing.
|This fishing lure was caught deep in a|
herring gull's throat. (Photo: Chelsea Pullen)
For starters, many - in fact, most - cases of injured and orphaned wildlife admitted to HFW are not caused by nature to begin with. The overwhelming majority of cases are caused either directly or indirectly by humans: a fawn is orphaned when a mother is hit by a car; a bird was attacked by a pet allowed to roam freely; a nest of squirrels is made homeless when its tree is cut down; a skunk gets its head stuck in a jar; a loon is sick from eating fishing lures. These are all examples of how animals are affected by the actions of humans. At Hope for Wildlife, we feel it is important that humans take responsibility for these actions and take the steps to fix them. We don’t see these cases as interfering with nature, because it wasn’t a cause of nature to begin with.
|It may have been nature's cause, |
but Hope for Wildlife didn't hesitate to
get involved when some snowy owls
were found starving well outside
their usual range (Photo: HFW)
Of course, there are times when nature is the cause: tropical birds are blown northward and left weak by storms; scarce food supplies force animals to migrate out of their usual range leaving them tired and hungry; young are orphaned when their mother dies trying to distract or fight off predators; late season young just aren’t ready for the winter ahead and fail to thrive. These causes may be natural, but Hope for Wildlife isn’t going to stand by and let nature take its course if we can help. Consider this: humans interfere with nature every single day - to build shelter, grow food, create roads and cities - we take land, we create pollution. So when nature gives us the opportunity to make a positive contribution, of course we are going to ‘interfere’.
|3 young osprey are left homeless |
after the tree supporting their
nest broke during post-tropical
storm Arthur. (Photo: Katie Hauser)
Last weekend when post-tropical storm Arthur blew through, nature gave us an opportunity to help. An osprey nest broke free in the storm, throwing 3 nestlings to the ground. With the parents circling overhead, it seemed like there was a good chance the young could be reunited.
After ensuring the young were unharmed, staff and volunteers set to the task of rebuilding the nest. A few hours later, the nest was hoisted into a nearby tree, followed by the 3 nestlings.
|The new nest is hoisted into a|
nearby tree (Photo: Katie Hauser)
The next morning there were no signs the parents had returned; staff climbed back to the nest to feed the young. The parents weren’t far - they were perched in the broken tree where the nest had been. After another 12 hours and another feeding, the replacement nest was relocated back to the old tree on a lower and more secure branch. Finally, upon checking the chicks on day 3, their crops were full and there were signs of food in the nest. The parents had finally returned to their young!
Did Hope for Wildlife interfere with nature by helping the osprey? Perhaps. But we don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.