After the Webinar: Helping Wildlife in Distress. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters John Griffin and Dave Pauli answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Helping Wildlife in Distress. Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: Do the seasonal charts change depending on if you’re in, like, Eastern Canada or the US or Western? So, do seasons change depending on which coast you’re on? 

John Griffin: They certainly do, and, yeah, there’s some geographical variation at play here with those species. So, it’s really what’s happening locally for you, to sort of chart that out. When we first started the main study jumped into addressing wildlife issues, like wildlife conflicts in a community. We launched a for-fee service business in the Washington, DC area, among other places. And the books don’t really have it all figured out. I mean, you can’t rely on an absolutely concrete, seasonal date that says, groundhogs will have their young here or squirrels will have their young in May. You always have to be looking for variation, especially if you’re looking to try to address the situation with animals that have young in a structure, and you’re trying to evict them. So, you have to do some work to understand if young might be present. We always assume that they are. That’s the reason that they’re getting in, nesting, or developing a den site, but, yes, there is. There’s quite a bit of variation across the continent, and so it’s good to understand that from a sort of local knowledge base.


Audience Question: Should we be using electronic devices on animals, particularly like larger animals like the larger antlered deer that are sometimes trapped?

Dave Pauli: There is a company that produced an animal taser that was tested on bears in Alaska, and elk deer in Colorado. And it has limited applicability in that you have to measure risk. In Gardiner, Montana, they had a deer that had Christmas lights entangled in its antlers, pretty entangled up. If they immobilize that elk, chemical immobilization is not a pure science. Animals can die from stress, not being in ————– . They tased that elk, ran in for 12 seconds, cut the lights, backed off and it worked. But I don’t think it can be recommended as a standard protocol or policy. You have to take the training. There are different risks involved. But on a bear and elk and moose, it has been used in rescue situations that did not require transportation. If the animal has to be transported, it needs to be chemically immobilized, or at least partially immobilized. ——— and transported. So, I wouldn’t run out and buy one, but you may discuss whether for your particular situation, it might be a tool.


Audience Question: Should the US Fish and Wildlife Service be contacted prior to handling protected species such as migratory birds and those listed on the endangered species list? What’s your advice?

John Griffin: Well, they may need to be depending on the situation. So that is something to really sort of figure out. There is something called the Good Samaritan Law. You can move protected species out of harm’s way. like, for instance, if you have raptors that are trapped inside of a building. You don’t have to get a special permit from the US. Fish and Wildlife Service to affect the removal through capture. If it’s a really risky operation, and you need the expertise, or help, it’s worthwhile contacting them if you have the time, obviously. But I think that’s has a lot to do with what, how that scenario is presenting itself. But if they’re in harm’s way and it’s a question of reflecting a rescue team to make sure the animal passes, and the outcome is a safe one. Then that would typically I would think, would not require contacting the US Fish and Wildlife Service since it would be sort of time-dependent.

Dave Pauli: Totally agree, John. Discussion to have with your US Fish and Wildlife people beforehand. But the general rule is if you are intervening to help the animal. And you’re not going to take it into custodial care. You’re not going to have it in your house or your shelter for weeks. You’re probably going to be okay if you’re just doing a rescue release. But many times, that animal does have to have a veterinary eval in order to be released. So, you get into that gray area of are we acting in the critter’s best interest? Most US Fish and Wildlife Service, they’re not looking to give citations. They are looking to protect the resource. So, if you’re acting in an animal’s best interest, you should be okay, but still don’t take the animal into confinement and put it in the human building —— protected species.

John Griffin: Now, we should also note that there may be large carnivores that the state requires their participation in any kind of potential rescue scenario and that they need to be contacted. So, that should be, you know, that’s obviously part of it a response or any outreach. They need to be brought into it if that’s a requirement in the state and usually it is.


Audience Question: Could you describe or explain what a clamshell box is?

John Griffin: Sure. I’ve got one right here behind me. This is a clamshell box or otherwise known as a banana box. So, it’s a two-part box, and you can set one part down, get the other side over on the other side of the animal, and then close them, like a clamshell. But anyway, it’s a two-part box put on either side of the victim, and then close them off, and then close them like a clamshell, and then have the animal in the box. And so, it’s a very good way of handling, especially road injured owls and other animals that you don’t want to touch, and you don’t want to put them to distress or entanglement of a net. I’ve done porcupines, badgers ——– and literally hundreds of —– all in my clamshell banana box which you can get at any grocery store.


JCH: How do you address altering or damaging property of a resident and not be liable? So, for example, that deer get caught in the fencing and you have to remove one of the spindles or one of the metal bars. Is the police department or organization liable for damaging a fence when necessary to remedy the situation such as getting the deer out of the fence? 

John Griffin: I mean, that’s a really good question. Having permission to be on the property is important. Depending on this, you know, residential or commercial property. But the other, you know, the other side of that is that it would be damaged anyway, and the animal would be dead and is left to die. In that situation, if there was a concern about the damage being done, I think most of those listed the kinds of fence rescues that can be taken on or are pretty immediately repairable. And I mean we’ve never been able, you know, we never had a where we weren’t able to bend it back or put the slide back in place without compromising any more than it already was.

Dave Pauli: And I also think in the vast, vast majority, 90 something percent, the homeowner is going to tell you to do whatever you have to do. I don’t like it dying in my driveway. So, they’re pretty open-minded to dismantling whatever you have to do and are good-natured in that way.

John Griffin: Right. That’s always been my experience as well. We’ve never really had that press hard. We’ve always tried to repair anything that we did and usually, it was minimal damage if any at all.


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