The Wildlife Rehabilitation Program at Salmonier Nature Park receives on average approximately 75 wild animals requiring assistance each year. Of this number, a high percentage are injured, and of these injured animals, greater than ninety percent are birds.
There are usually two categories of injuries to animals:
The natural injuries most frequently involve such occurrences as starvation and injury from other animals, while human-induced injuries most frequently result from collisions, whether these be of birds with man-made objects, or automobile collisions with both birds and mammals. There is usually a significant number of injured animals each year that have been the victims of attack by free-roaming pet cats.
Should you encounter an injured animal, it is recommended that you immediately report the incident to your local Conservation Officer or the local police. These individuals will arrange to have the animal collected and transported to Salmonier Nature Park or a veterinarian.
Abandoned Wildlife: If You Care - Leave Them There
In late spring and early summer, many residents of the province will be heading afield to kick-off another season of camping, fishing and getting back to nature in the great outdoors. Please remember this season coincides with the peak birth season of many of the provinces wild creatures.
Each year around this time, Salmonier Nature Park receives a number of calls reporting lost or abandoned young wild animals. In many cases, it is a normal occurrence for the parent animals to leave their young unattended for extended time periods. Often the adult animal will be hiding somewhere nearby and may be reluctant to return while people are present. It is recommended that if you encounter what you perceive to be an orphaned or abandoned animal, to immediately leave the area, and report the incident to your nearest Forestry/Wildlife office or police detachment.
Another major concern at this time of the year is that very newborn young, particularly moose and caribou, will "adopt" any human they encounter and on many occasions have willingly followed people home. It is recommended people avoid direct contact and immediately leave the area should they encounter an unattended young animal.
Although people feel some obligation to intervene and help a lost animal, in actual fact this human contact may be doing more harm than good. An animal that is raised in captivity in most cases is unable to return to a wild existence.
Within this province, Salmonier Nature Park becomes home to lost and abandoned animals taken in by the public. Park staff will attempt to rehabilitate and re-introduce animals back to the wild, but unfortunately, most wild animals raised in captivity cannot survive on their own. Park staff will also attempt to identify other accredited zoological parks willing to accept animals for educational display. Often with common species, it is difficult to find such a suitable home and occasionally the animal must be euthanised.
Salmonier Nature Park was established as a high quality environmental education centre to promote an understanding and appreciation for this Province's wildlife and its habitat.
As the public conscience for wildlife has blossomed in recent years, so has people's expectation for wildlife rehabilitation services. Much of that expectation is focused on Salmonier Nature Park as more and more people become aware of the park facilities and the skills of its staff. The Park is the only facility in the Province that is both federally and provincially permitted to provide rehabilitation services for birds, reptiles, amphibians and land mammals.
Wildlife rehabilitation has both direct and indirect benefits. Direct conservation benefits to wildlife occur when species are rehabilitated and released. Indirect benefits to wildlife arise in the form of public support for conservation. Other indirect benefits arise from the knowledge that is inevitably derived from the hands-on experience of trying to care for animals. For example, many successful raptor breeding programs throughout the world began from rehabilitating common species.
While operating within certain resource limitations, the Park attempts to accept and rehabilitate most wild animals that are placed in its care. However, in some situations, some screening of animals occasionally occur.
Moose Calves - A Special Case
One of the most significant problems associated with animal rehabilitation is evident every spring when the park is asked to accept "orphaned" moose calves. There are usually four to eight requests each year. Three serious problems associated with accepting moose calves arise:
In almost every case it is not in the best interest of moose to remove calves from their natural setting. It is important to understand talking calves from the wild is an unnecessary human disturbance. In many situations when the Park accepts a calf, it is fostering the perception that removing animals from the wild in this way is an acceptable practice.
Hand raising moose calves is an expensive and time consuming activity which strain the Park's resources.
If a calf is successfully reared, a major problem still exists. The park rarely needs more moose. Other zoological parks in Canada, which are suitably equipped and staffed to handle moose usually have them already.
Release back to the wild is usually inappropriate because the animal's ability to survive is questionable and hand-rearing makes the animal quite tame. It is quite likely that it would end up as a public nuisance or even cause a highway accident.
Candidate animals for rehabilitation will be screened on the following basis: