Volunteers needed for orphaned wildlife research
Medicine River Wildlife Centre is looking for people interested in assisting with wildlife research this year.
The research projects focus on tracking and documenting orphaned wildlife such as birds, foxes, coyotes, and white-tailed and mule deer after the animals are “placed for adoption” with wild families.
The centre is asking landowners to allow volunteers to conduct observations on and around their properties, and to keep an eye on the wildlife families as well.
“It’s not a lot of work,” said executive director Carol Kelly. “But there are some people who find it fascinating, to watch these things and come out into the field with us to observe.”
The wildlife centre has been performing this research for several years to determine whether or not introducing orphaned wildlife to adoptive families is a more viable method of assisting wildlife rather than raising the found babies at the centre.
So far, Kelly says the research projects have been “very successful.”
“For a long time, people didn’t believe you could introduce an orphaned animal to a wild family.”
Kelly suspects part of this may have been because domesticated animals, including livestock like cows, are not generally able to accept young orphans and take them in as their own.
But when it comes to the birds, foxes, coyotes and deer, Kelly says there is very rarely a problem.
“To them, it’s just another baby,” said Kelly. “Wild animals are programmed to keep their species going, so when they’re introduced to a newcomer they have the drive to help raise them.”
Kelly added that the orphaned animals take very quickly to their adoptive parents as well, in most cases. However, introducing the orphans to their new homes can be a tricky process.
For most birds, it is usually a matter of simply putting the orphaned chick into the corresponding nest. Afterwards, centre volunteers will return to keep a “beak count” and make sure all the chicks are strong and healthy.
With fawns, centre volunteers will play the sound of a fawn in distress, then observe if a doe will come to the call and collect the orphaned fawn.
The orphaned animals are tracked as well, either with colour-marked ears, or this year with transmitters, so their progress with their new family can be documented for the centre’s research.
Those interested in assisting with the research project are asked to call 403-728-3467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org