In the case of Maine’s official literature on the issue of wildlife rehabilitation, the authors list a number of common myths about the profession.
The second most common myth that state licensing officials face, according to the book, is that rehabilitating wildlife is fun.
“Wildlife rehabilitation can be fun, stimulating, rewarding, and at times enjoyable,” according to the literature, “but it is rarely enjoyable. Instead, it requires physical and mental effort, emotionally exhausting, and significant work. It involves many It’s unpleasant tasks, such as cleaning wounds, washing cages, and sometimes deciding to euthanize an animal that is suffering and cannot recover.”
Animal rehabilitation is not a hobby, and state officials are very clear on that, too. It’s not something anyone can do. And simple love for animals is not necessarily enough.
Kathy Mackie knows all this. owner Wild Miracles Rehab Wildlife And K&K Animal Damage Control in Bowdoin, she embarked on becoming a rehabilitation worker and animal control worker in 2018 and only recently got into the swing of things.
Make no mistake: becoming a wildlife restorer is not for the lazy or hypersensitive.
“In order to obtain a license to rehabilitate wildlife, you have to get in touch with inland fisheries and wildlife,” McCue says. “You receive study materials, you need to volunteer at a licensed facility for at least 100 hours: learning about handling, storage requirements, feeding techniques, cleaning, quarantine protocols, etc.”
There is a section called “Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation” on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website.
This section is 128 pages long and covers everything from reporting requirements to preventing transmission of disease to the disposal of carcasses and animal waste products.
It’s a lot of work. It is often gross and always stressful. Long, long working hours and fatigue seem to go along with the territory.
So, who in their right mind would want to do this?
Well, Jennifer Marchegiani, for example. Owner Misfits Rehab in Auburn, a 20-year veteran of the wildlife game and a woman with a lot of experience in the field, has called in to coach others.
Like state officials who stress the difficulties of getting into wildlife rehabilitation, Marchigiani agrees it’s not anyone’s business.
“Because it’s not about accommodating cute wild animals,” she says, “there’s a lot of heartache, stress, financial burdens, etc.”
So when Marchigiani trains a newcomer, it’s pretty clear if this newbie was cut short for the rigors of animal rescue. With that in mind, Marchegianni is clear on one point: Cathy McCoy is just the kind of person that the area’s wildlife rehabilitation community needs.
“Kathy is amazing,” Marchigiani stated. “She was so excited to learn anything and everything I was willing to show her, so we did it all!”
Keep in mind that animal rescuers like these two don’t just dump injured raccoons and abandoned baby skunks in crates and take them to the professionals.
“As a rehabilitation worker, you’re pretty much forced to do a lot of things the vet has to do, but we have to sort out some very critical cases before we can even bring her in to see a vet,” Marchegianni says.
When Marchegianni started operating in 2002, the country that allowed the test had only 10 questions and they were basic questions in that regard. Testing is much more difficult these days and there are more restrictions for those hoping to break into the exciting world of wildlife.
Marchigiani says McCoy would benefit from the stricter tests and training she was required to undergo.
As far as Marchigiani is concerned, Mackie definitely has the right things for the job.
“She’s got an amazing personality and more energy than I can muster so she just breathed some fresh air to breathe,” Marchegianni says. “I was both happy and sad when she opened her own place, Wilderness Miracles. I was sad that she didn’t have a partner here, but I’m so glad she’s clearing out on her own and really lightening the burden Eat here.”
McCoy also trained with the Saco River Wildlife Center, so her training was a good one. But there was someone else at work who had an influence on her, and that’s where I come in.
I got interested in McCoy’s story when Rich Burton, owner, told me about it Trapping specialized wild animals in Lewiston And one of the most active and colorful animal controllers in the area.
“It really does a lot for the wild animals,” Burton said, then moved on to the wild animals inventory McCue is currently helping. This includes, at last count, 67 baby raccoons, 10 baby opossums, four small red foxes, two gray foxes, an adult gray fox, a baby porcupine, an adult porcupine, a groom, a fisherman, a mink, and an adult raccoon.
Burton admired Mackie, and anyone able to impress a wild man like Burton is important to me. So I set out to find out what had prompted this lady to engage in such a faltering business.
She is the mother of three older children and grandmother of three more, McCoy. She is a former chef who worked in Michigan before coming to Maine.
How does a professional chef enter the rough and tumble world of dealing with wildlife? For Mackie, it was a health crisis.
“I decided ‘wildlife’ was for me after a battle with head and neck cancer five years ago,” she says. “While recovering from radiotherapy, I took this time to learn, study, and connect.”
The idea did not come out of nowhere. By the time she was temporarily diagnosed with cancer, she had already volunteered with a local wildlife restorer.
“That’s when I knew that was what I wanted to do,” McCoy says. “I fell in love with this job. So, in November 2018, I set out to achieve my goal of becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitation provider and then open my own rehabilitation facility. By April 2020, I achieved my goal.”
McKee now runs Wilderness Miracles with the help of her husband, Ken Bellsbury, which creates all the outdoor packaging for the business.
Mackie’s new profession meant a complete change in the couple’s lifestyle; Housing nearly 100 creatures – from mice to bats and from raccoons to wolves – tends to shake things up a bit.
“The walk to the rehab center, which is in the basement of our house, is a bit noisy at times,” McCoy says, though, “although first thing in the morning, it’s really quiet and when they start waking up you can hear them moving softly, yelling and purring. It’s music to my ears.”
At first glance, it looks like it’s frankly a ball. Why, having all those happy creatures should be like living in a Disney cartoon!
Unfortunately no. Taking care of wild animals means facing a little bit of everything. There is disease, there is death, there are bites and scratches. Animal rehabilitation must be adapted to anticipate the unexpected.
“Scratching happens all the time,” McCoy says. “Bites do happen, but if you wear the right gloves, it won’t hurt. Me and most of the wonderful volunteers are vaccinated against rabies – not something that is required, but I insist they have that protection.”
Being attached to animals is also a risk because in places where large numbers of animals are collected, there are good chances that some bad things will happen. And bad things tend to be learning experiences.
A year ago, McCoy welcomed three raccoons from Waterville who were in dire and suffering, an experience she described as “nervous and heartbreaking.”
These three animals died and tests proved that only raccoons they tested positive for rabies.
“The worst year we’ve had so far has been last year,” McCoy says. “We took in a lot of raccoons. We ended up with a parvo virus that killed a third of our raccoons. Unfortunately, I learned a lot from that. I now have strict quarantine protocols. All raccoons go through a two-week quarantine plus one day.” They are all vaccinated against parvo, tuberculosis and rabies during this time. Yes, expensive, but effective.”
And speaking of cost, who is paying for all of this anyway? Not the state. McCoy says there is no state-funded wildlife rehabilitation. Everything is paid for at Wilderness Miracles, as are other wildlife designers.
“We have a lot of fundraisers to help with the cost,” McCoy says. “We are also working on getting our status as a non-profit organization. I have really great volunteers who are trained, capable and committed to our wildlife, thank goodness.”
wrestling raccoon and shy kid fox
When a new wildlife handler like McCue comes along, it’s cause for celebration among others at work. There is no competition here, just the opposite. There are far more wild animals that need attention than the people who provide them.
“There certainly isn’t enough rehab,” Marchegiani says. “We lost four rehabs in the state this year and even looking at the list the state has on their page isn’t accurate – there are listed recertifiers who haven’t rehabilitated in many years.”
Mackey and others like her are welcome to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Service. Marchegianni says that the more rehab collaborations increase across the state, the more animals in need will be helped.
“Networking is essential,” she says. “There are still a few secluded and somewhat secluded rehabilitation centers, but not many. Most of us communicate regularly, share supplies, talk about upcoming conferences, and share the knowledge gained.”
And the education of these healers never ended; Updated guidelines for the state’s wildlife department make sure of this. Like we said at the beginning, it’s not a business for the unmotivated.
Marchegianni says, “One of the best things I like about the new permitting process is (the need) to continue education every year so that people can continue to grow in knowledge, as new information about diet, nutrition, sorting, medications, changes in formula, etc., changes Always — another reason to connect.”
Markegani’s Misfits Rehab It is already a well known and much loved local wildlife rehabilitation center and has over 8000 followers on Facebook alone. Report an injured or distressed animal in the Lewiston-Auburn area, and chances are good that a group of strangers will advise you to contact the Misfits at once.
At Bowdoin, McCue set out to create the same kind of loyal following, helped in part by his many photos of animals (including, my favorite, photos of a camera-shy baby red fox) That blessing her page. I mean come. Who isn’t a sucker for pictures of baby raccoons wrestling in a box-fed newborn opossum or box?
Mostly, though, it’s her growing reputation among creature lovers and other animal-controllers that has caused her to increase in popularity. Even by state and national standards that make it so difficult to break into this business, Mackie has proven that she has the right things.
What is the secret of success in this kind of tumultuous work? Mackie can sum it up in just a few words.
“Busy, busy, busy,” she says. “All the time.”
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