October 27, 2011

Not Always Happy Endings

Two day-old mule deer fawns after their rescue.
Last June 24th I wrote about how two mule deer fawns, the surviving pair from what had been triplets, were transported in a relay from the western San Luis Valley to some wildlife rehabilitators who live near us.

I learned yesterday that the smaller fawn, the little male seen here being fed from a syringe on the day he arrived, had gone into a sudden decline and died.

His caretakers were a married couple, both retired schoolteachers, and yesterday she wrote,
[Tuesday] morning he didn't want his bottle, and that was very strange. I noticed he had a very runny stool and then it turned to blood. He made it through the day quite comfortably and I had some hope  Last night when everyone left for the night I kept him in the shelter, knowing that if I didn't he would have a very miserable death out in the snow. The little guy never got to see the snow. I slept in the shelter with him til about eleven and then went inside. This morning I found him in his favorite corner in the fresh straw.
You have to be emotionally strong to do that job year after year. Yes, maybe this fawn was too undeveloped, being the smaller of the two survivors. Yet I had seen him just a week ago, running around the pasture and looking OK.

It is even worse at the Raptor Center, I know, where only something like 25-30 percent of the birds brought (if that) survive. Like the great horned owl that I picked up in September—it was alive and feisty, but a wing was shattered beyond repair—probably from a power line collision—and the director decided to put it down.

They have a couple of one-winged birds in captivity, but those birds never can get around well, and the protocol nowadays is to euthanize them.


Midwest Chick said...

You have to have a depth of compassion and strength to do rehab and a strong belief that saving the few makes it worth it.

Holly Heyser said...

I can talk pretty tough, but I don't know that I could handle that work. I develop pretty strong emotional attachments. Condolences.

Mark Churchill said...

I volunteer with the local raptor rehabilitation group, mostly for special projects like trapping hawks that get themselves into buildings and can't find the way out, but there's no way I could deal with hurt hawks day in and day out. I really admire those who do.

Ingrid said...

Working as a wildlife rehabilitator is, indeed, very tough emotionally. I often say that since I began doing this work many years ago now, I am a much sadder person. It changed me forever, made me a bit more angry, a bit less patient, and much less tolerant of the cavalier ways we humans objectify and treat wild animals. I agree with Midwest Chick that what keeps you going is knowing that your intervention mattered to that ONE animal ... even if you can't help enough of them.