A glimps into the world of wildlife rehabilitation…the world through a rehabber's eyes.

WREN project

Plant sale continues!

Thanks to everyone who has participated in our charity plant sale and helped to raise desperately needed funding to support all of the wonderful animals in our care! Each and every one of the animals that come into our facility have been granted a second chance by wonderful people like you who support our cause. Without you, none of these animals would even have the dream of becoming wild and free again one day. Many of them are in critical condition, and in need of a lot of very expensive treatment. Every penny counts!

We still have a huge selection of fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers to choose from! Come on out, support our native wildlife, and beautify your garden! Don’t need any plants for your garden, but want a way to help out? Of course, donations are always graciously accepted and more appreciated than you know! We are also in need of great volunteers that can help clean up and organize our special events, and make sure our animals are provided with the best quality care while they are with us. Ask us about volunteer opportunities!


charity plant sale!

Charity plant sale benefiting Texas wildlife! 11605 County Road 2312, Terrell Tx Saturday and Sunday! April 21st – 22nd, and April 28th – 29th, 10am to dusk. Plants, herbs, tomatos, custom raised beds, green houses, and more! Come check out our wildlife!

WREN classes starting again!

Okay, I can admit it, our experimental expedited WREN class did not go over as we had planned! So, after some re-planning, we are again preparing to hold new full length WREN classes! Interested in becoming a permitted rehabber? Curious about wild animal care? Or do you just want some really good knowledge? Well, come join us for a brand new session of WREN classes hosted by The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch!

We have not offered classes for a while, and the demand has not slowed. Space is extremely limited, and we already have quite a few students on our roster, so if you are interested, please contact us immediately! Classes will be held from February 11 to March 31st, 10am-4pm. Tuition cost will be $350 per student.

You can contact us at kari@crosstimberswildlife.org OR getwild@crosstimberswildlife.org

Register for WREN here! http://crosstimberswildlife.org/wren_class_registration Remember, registration is on a first come, first served basis, and space is limited! Once this class has been filled, no further registrations will be accepted!

Critical Times

Since the beginning of the year, WCCR has been struggling to keep it’s doors open, and struggling to continue accepting animals that need us. We have held on for what seems like a very long time. We vainly attempted to raise significant amounts of money to purchase our current location, or to help us move, and build cages without success.

I have tried to buy multiple properties to house us, and so far have been unsuccessful in that venture as well. It seems like every offer we make falls through for one reason or another. I fear that we may not be able to hold on much longer. The economy is still slumping, and donors have become exceedingly scarce. Running the largest wildlife center in the region out of our own pockets, and with a completely volunteer staff is nearly impossible. We have been watching other wildlife organizations close their doors left and right this season, and we are trying not to follow suit. Our cries for help and support have fallen on deaf ears, and we are at the mercy of time. Time is not on our side anymore.

The animal we have chosen to continue accepting is the North American Bobcat. We are one of a very small handful of supporters available for this amazing predator, and if we close our doors, they lose a significant player in their protection and advocacy. Not only will they suffer, but our education program will be brought to it’s knees. I have been saying for months that we are struggling, and always by some small miracle, we are able to hang on a while longer, but we cannot keep this up. I need more time. I am sure I can find the right property, but I need time. And time costs money. Lots of it. Lots of money that we do not have.

We have had some amazing successes this year, breaking our record in the numbers of babies we work with, pulling little Theo back from the brink over and over again, and some really great release stories. Do you remember the two siblings trapped by cock fighters? Tormented and traumatized, until they were awarded to us? They tasted freedom again; they were delivered from the evils of people through the compassion of better people. Wonderful people. People just like you who made their freedom possible again. The release of these lucky souls can be seen through the link on the upper right hand corner of your screen. It is entitled “Crosstimbers Bobcat Release”.

All of these stories exist because this organization exists. But we cannot keep existing without a little help. Rehabbing a baby bobcat costs an average of $2,000 or more. Right now, we have more than 20 in our release program alone. That is not including the non-release program cats. WCCR wants to continue saving and protecting these wonderful cats, but we need your help. As little as $20 makes a huge impact for a 501(c)3 like ours.

I know people hate being asked for money, but my mother always told me that all you can do is ask. And so, I am asking. I have been trying to raise $5,000 for Crosstimbers, and so far have been pitifully unsuccessful. So, my dear readers, I am asking. Can you contribute $20 dollars to my cause? I want nothing more in the world than to see Crosstimbers spread it’s wings. I believe in this organization, it’s goals, and it’s values. The only way to ensure the success of our planet is through supporting organizations that put environment, conservation, biodiversity, and education at the forefront of every aspect of their organization. If you can find it in your heart and your wallet to part with $20 dollars, it would mean the world to one of the most amazing grassroots organizations in Texas.


Conclusion of the Murphy Meeting

Tonight, several groups got together at Murphy, Tx City Hall. In-Sync Exotics, the Holifield Science Learning center, and of course, yours truly. The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch/National Bobcat Rescue and Research foundation. The DFW Wildlife Coalition was supposed to be represented, as were a few other groups who were unable to attend.

It was a great meeting. Valeri gave a great informative presentation on bobcats, and the attendees were really interested, and asked some really great questions!

We got some really great information out there tonight! Thank you for all of the wonderful people who attended, and all the really great questions about one of our favorite animals! The more we can change the incorrect perceptions about the North American Bobcat and other similar species, the more positive change we can make in our world!

I feel very positive about this meeting, and I am so glad that the City of Murphy hosted this really wonderful discussion. Thank you, City of Murphy! Keep up the great work! The only way to change how bobcats (and any other wildlife) are handled is to inform people, citizens and law enforcement alike, about the options out there. Not only that, but to arm people with accurate information on this animal’s behavior, habitat, and activities, and the importance of acceptance of not only prey animals, but predators as well to maintain a natural balance, even in our urban environments. Removing wildlife from it’s natural habitat is not the solution.

The only way we are going to be able to do this is to continue to dispel fears associated with predators through discussions like this one. No, a 30lb bobcat is not going to carry away your small child, no, a bobcat does not randomly attack small pets, and no, they are not aggressive animals that attack without reason.

I feel one small step closer to the general public accepting that not only is removing and relocating an animal just because you saw it in your yard a bad idea, but that in fact, it may be beneficial to allow the animal to remain in its home.

To all the wonderful citizens and city officials who attended this meeting, I thank you, and hope that the information presented here was informative and helpful to increase understanding of our urban (and rural) wildlife.

The Murphy Conference

The City of Murpy is having a conference to discuss the death of a bobcat, shot in the head while confined in a live trap. In a few days, the director of WCCR and myself will be on our way to speak on the subject.

We will see how it goes. The City of Murphy has expressed that they now realize that the situation could have been handled far differently. I completely agree. I hope that as an organization, we may be able to take this opportunity to not only educate the public on the true nature of bobcats, but also to educate city officials on wildlife in general, and more appropriate channels in which to handle said wildlife. Wish us luck on this endeavor. More on the subject later.

New Caging

Its time again for my regularly scheduled beg for money. We are well past the time of being comfortable with the future of the ranch. The property we found that would work for us would take less than $50,000 to give us a fresh new start. Unfortuately, it appears that I cannot find a way to get that property to finance, and no one has offered to purchase it in cash and donate it or owner finance it to us ha ha.

I also haven’t had any luck finding another suitable property for a price affordable for our 501(c)3. We have discussed a solution that may work for us, but it will cost us about $10,000 minimally. We don’t even come close to having that kind of money available. If anyone out there can help us out, please contact me. In order to stay afloat, we will need a serious injection of cash at this point. As with every 501(c)3, we can provide some serious tax write offs, but in these times when people care less about the natural world, and more about their own families, it is really tough to find people who are willing and able to help wildlife organizations like our own.

Even Wild Care (that has been serving the metroplex for 27 years) announced recently that they will be closing their doors. More and more wildlife organizations are struggling or closing their doors.

As more and more of these big organizations close their doors, the stress on the remaining orgainzations increases. This is only the beginning of the problem. The work that we do goes largely unpaid. Wildlife trappers are the only other option, and they charge a ton of money for what they do. Generally, they may charge $1500 to trap, and then turn around and pawn the animal off on a center like ours, without so much as sharing a dollar. They get the better end of the deal. They drop the animal off on us, and we incure the expense of keeping it. Infact, some trappers wish that we would close our doors. If people do not have a place to bring the animals themselves (free of charge), they end up having to pay the trappers to take them.

But. What happens when there aren’t any centers for the animals to go to? Are the trappers going to keep and rehabilitate these animals? Doubtful. Rehab is not cheap……

Even if by some incredible chance, we find that donor willing to buy the property in cash and owner finance it or donate it to us, or lease it to us for a dollar a month, we still need caging. It will run us around $5,000-$10,000. It looks bleek for us. We were supposed to already be settled by this point.

WCCR on Cafe Press

I have been wanting to make T-shirts for WCCR available for a while now, and Valeri mentioned Cafe Press to me. Sooo…I started creating designs, and opened a cafe press store front. I think I have around eight designs now…I am still deciding which ones I want to keep, and wether or not I want to make different ones.

Anyway, I went ahead and ordered one of the designs I made…partially because I am curious as to how it is going to look, and partly because I thought it was super cute.

Do you remember the story about little CaRo I posted a few days ago? This is the same picture I used in that post. Cute, huh? You too can own one of these adorable bags! ❤ You choose a design, and the product you want, and they will create it for you, and send it out to you. The very best part about it? WCCR gets part of the proceeds! I think that is completely awesome! Don’t want a tote bag? How about a fitted T-shirt for you ladies out there?

Or a mug, or a bumper sticker, or a wall clock! There are tons of items, and all of them can have any of the WCCR designs on them you want! I am really pleased with the process so far…here’s to hoping I continue being pleased with the purchasing process! Okay, I couldn’t resist! One more picture!

How cute is that? It’s a [bob]cat chasing a butterfly! Now, for some shameless, self promotion! ^.^


Check us out at Cafe Press, get some cool new accessories for your house, or additions to your wardrobe, and help the critters too!

Dangers of inexperienced wildlife rehabilitation

So…some of my friends brought this story to my attention, and of course, I was horrified. Apparently, an officer at a local school maced the poor thing, claiming defense of students and himself.


The video can be seen on youtube if you wish to look it up. Here is a rehabilitator’s take on a possible scenario. It’s a possibility that this animal was taken in and raised by a person who is not a licensed rehabilitator. This person may have gotten lucky enough to keep the squirrel alive, and healthy enough to reach an age where they thought it was old enough for release. They probably didn’t consider the ramifications of imprinting that animal, or take the time to think of an appropriate release site, or bothered to teach the squirrel how to identify the kinds of foods it will be eating in the wild.

What does all of that add up to? A wild animal that does not know how to find food on its own, and one who looks to people for reassurance, comfort, and shelter. Toss in thoughtlessly releasing the poor animal in the most convenient location for the humans and not the squirrel, and you end up with a four-ounce squirrel with a face full of police grade pepper spray, and a group of screaming school children.

Oh, how this could have been handled so much more eloquently…for those of you who ever find yourselves in a situation where you are considering macing a squirrel, a tea towel, a shirt, or a blanket tossed over the critter will most likely allow you to pick it up without getting bitten, and most importantly, without harming the squirrel. In this situation, if you are truly worried about the kids, send them inside the building until the professional that you have called arrives.

Back to my main topic of conversation for today. Assuming the scenario I presented was a true one, sadly enough, this was one lucky squirrel. Rehabilitating squirrels (and most other species) without a license is illegal. It used to drive me nuts not being able to find enough information on how to care for a found animal. There is good reason for it. But, I didn’t know that then. All I could ever find, was take it to a licensed rehabilitator, but I never found a justification for that statement. So, here is an in-depth reason why that is such perfect advice. The good Samaritan law states that you have 72 hours to get these animals to a rehabber.

Rehabbers usually ask that if you find orphaned wildlife, not to feed them. As humans, we find great comfort in eating, and we use provision of food to loved ones as a means of healing and forming bonds. Naturally, that is also our first reaction when we find sick, injured, or simply orphaned wildlife. Please listen to the rehabber when they ask you not to feed the baby.

Cow’s milk, and puppy/kitten milk replacers (and the little bottles that come with them) you can find at petsmart and petco are usually people’s first choice when they find orphaned wildlife. All three of these choices, as well as the bottles and nipples available in these places are completely inappropriate to feed any orphan wildlife. They are barren in necessary nutrients, and very harsh on the little wild one’s GI tract. It leads to major, painful bloating that can take days to get over.

 On top of that, there is a huge risk of aspiration (inhalation of formula) with inappropriate bottles and nipples. Even with the proper tools, aspiration is a huge risk, and can lead to aspiration pneumonia and a long painful death for the little one without immediate action.

The rehabber’s first task after ensuring the baby is warm and undamaged, is assessing its hydration level. The majority of the time, babies come in too cold, and dehydrated. Feeding a cold or dehydrated baby can also spell disaster. Baby squirrels cannot regulate their own body temperature, cold squirrels cannot assimilate any food into their systems. Feeding a cold squirrel can kill it, as well as feeding it the wrong strength of formula too soon.

Even if one not licensed to rehab clears these hurdles, and the baby lives, there is a whole new set of risks and intentioned injuries that may be suffered upon a baby in inexperienced care. One of the biggest problems with raising baby animals is metabolic bone disease. This is an extreme lack of calcium that their growing bodies need. This is caused by inappropriate diet. It leads to paralysis, deformity, and brittle bones that break easily. It is a very painful condition. If caught early, and in a young animal, it is sometimes reversible with intensive treatment. Adults with metabolic bone disease cannot be cured, and the kindest thing for these animals is euthanasia. An option that would have been completely unnecessary if they had been getting proper care from the beginning.

Getting to the pre-release point not enduring even these most common place maladies (or any other conditions) with no knowledge or game plan is amazing to say the least. But, for the sake of discussion, lets say that our average joe citizen has gotten this far, and now has a healthy, happy juvenile squirrel. A squirrel that he has played with at every opportunity, and who has bonded to him during every feeding, riding around on his shoulder. Our little adorable squirrel has graduated from formula to Cheerios and shelled, salted sunflower seeds! At this point, our little squirrel is eating solid foods, and playing with the family cat who loves everybody, and chasing the kids around the room in a lively game of tag. Oh how cute! We should film it, and put it on youtube!

Now it is time for joe citizen’s little squirrel to return back into the big world where he came from. The family decides to release him in a green park in the middle of the neighborhood. There are plenty of trees there, squirrels eat trees, right? And the kids have a place to play, and everyone is always walking their dogs, there are lots of other squirrels there, and the neighbor’s cats are always roaming the park, chasing butterflies, and eating crickets.

Of course I am sure you, my dear reader, can see the folly in his plan. This squirrel loves to chase children, likes shoulder rides, thinks cats are playmates, and has no idea what food looks like! The park has no cheerio tree. Our poor little squirrel wouldn’t even know how to go about finding it if there was one! Who is going to tell him that he is a big boy now, and that big boy, wild squirrels don’t get shelled salted sunflower seeds? Who is going to tell him that now that he is wild, he needs to stop eating unbalanced meals, because out here in the wild world, there is no one to take care of him if he gets sick? There is no one to bring him bowls of water, and now he doesn’t know how to shell his own seeds. That orange tabby eyeing him from the picnic table doesn’t want to play, and the children run, screaming in fear when he approaches. There are these huge, shiny metal boxes on four wheels that make loud noises at him when he runs onto that huge slab of stone with yellow lines drawn on it.

Our dear squirrel is lonely, confused, hungry, and homeless, and none of these humans in this park are anything like his humans. They don’t like it when he climbs on their shoulders. They try to hit him and kick him. No one has given him a warm safe place to sleep. No one has played chase with him, and they don’t like it when he sits at their table for them to feed him. They shoo him away, and the cats chase him and swat at him. He sees other squirrels in the park, but he doesn’t know how to talk to them. They chase and bite him. Now what is left for our dear squirrel to do?

Please don’t try to rehabilitate a wild animal alone and illegally. Do what’s right for the animal. Contact a rehabber. If you want to be involved with wildlife rehabilitation, there are plenty of rehabbers that would be glad to let you be a part of it. WCCR included. Students who go through the WREN project get a chance to become a WCCR sub-permitee, and are allowed to rehabilitate wildlife under the guidance of WCCR. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities at the ranch.


Just one of those days

Today is another one of those days that I am obsessing about saving WCCR, and have no idea how to do it. I have tried everything I know to do. I have put in multiple grant proposals, and all of them have been turned down so far. I am not a grant writer, and from what I understand, grant writing is not an easy task. I have even tried to contact celebreties…which is amazingly hard, and any services that allow you do to so, charge for it. If you have been reading, you know how I feel about WCCR. It is an amazing organization with all the potential in the world, and it fills a niche in an area where it is sorely needed.

WCCR is the highest volume wildlife rehabilitation center in the region, and the largest bobcat rehabilitation, rescue, and sanctuary in the nation. In two years, nearly ten thousand animals have come through the doors of WCCR. Over 90% of them have returned to the wild, including some amazing success stories like Darlean the three-legged bobcat (I linked her story in a previous post) successfully returned to the wild by WCCR.

The WREN project is one of the most in-depth, hands on, cutting edge programs available on wildlife rehabilitation in the nation, and it is built on a solid plan for expansion. We focus on not only rehabilitating the wildlife, but creating a self-sustaining training program built to teach proper handling and treatment of wildlife in a rehabilitation program, as well as teaching about preserving the environment that these animals depend on upon their release, and stress responsible stewardship through teaching which species of animals can be released into what habitats, and what volumes of animals each release site can handle.

We rely heavily upon private lands and mitigation banks for the release of our animals. Mitigation banks are an invaluable tool to the wildlife of WCCR. They are wetlands that have been, or are in the process of being restored to their natural, untouched state. They are usually large tracts of land, owned by a group of people who possess a formal agreement with regulators establishing liability, performance standards, management, and monitoring requirements, and the terms of bank credit approval (http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/facts/fact16.html) . They provide the perfect habitat for native wildlife.

The preservation, rehabilitation, conservation, and education efforts of WCCR so far, have not been enough. Without the purchase price of the WCCR grounds, we cannot continue to exist. Our deadline is up. Unless we can find people who can donate in large amounts, WCCR will close. Very soon.

The five long-term bobcats, including my beloved Lenny will have to find somewhere to go, and all of the animals in our rehabilitation program will have to be transferred. The WREN project will die, and the blue prints for our state of the art facility will become evidence of the death of a phenomenal facility.

I have been trying other methods to raise the money we need, including creating a facebook cause page http://www.causes.com/causes/577450-the-wildlife-center-at-crosstimbers-ranch/about. I don’t expect facebook to save WCCR, but if we can raise awareness of the plight of one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation and environmental conservation hubs in the state, and even raise a little money to buy some of the things we need for day-to-day expenses (right now, we are looking for $1200.00 to purchase baby formula on causes. We have raised $150.00 for this project), maybe it will give us some relief to look for the big funding we need to purchase our property and keep our doors open.

The thousands of animals that are lucky enough to come through our doors make a huge impact on reducing human effect on the natural world. Every animal that enters the WCCR program is there because of something that a human has done. Be it unknowingly kidnapping a fawn, hitting a mother opossum with a car, finding orphaned/injured animals that another was careless enough to ignore, or removing baby squirrels and raccoons from their dens for various reasons. Without human meddling, the majority of these animals would not be here. Unfortunately, even if WCCR no longer exists, that will not prevent the blunders of human kind. That will leave thousands of wild animals without a second chance, a second chance that without us humans, they most likely would not have needed.

In a way, WCCR, and other facilities like it, work to off set the human effect on the natural world that we have detached ourselves from. And probably the most unfortunate part of it all, is because of the regulations pertaining to wildlife rehabilitation and the practiced, private hand required to return an animal under human care back into a wild environment make it difficult to shed light on these amazing organizations. For this reason, many wildlife rehabilitators remain small-scale, and rehabilitate these animals out of their own pockets. WCCR is trying to change that. But, we must get over this hurdle first.