The life of a battyloon: the humble beginnings of WildCare of WNY.
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
So first, an introduction! My name is Karen. I am a mom and a nature-lover.
I love to fix things and following along that path, became a veterinarian in 1995. I worked in private practice initially, then as a shelter vet caring for homeless cats and dogs. But after my student loans were paid off, I was able to pursue my true passion - wildlife! Being a wildlife veterinarian and rehabilitator is not a very lucrative career choice, but if all goes well, it involves releasing these animals back home where they belong and giving them back their freedom. In some little way it compensates for the damage humans have done to nature and other life on this planet.
After being able to work with so many different species as a wildlife veterinarian, I found that certain ones needed more one-on-one care to thrive in a rehabilitation setting. I wanted to concentrate on a few that became close to my heart, so that I could create the absolute best environment and quality of care for their specific needs. In this way I could give them the best chance to heal and return back to the wild.
I fell in love with loons after paddling with a loon family and sharing their world on my first trip to the Adirondacks in 2011. I have gone back every year since then to visit them. We do not have breeding loons in Western New York, but some pass through our area during migration. It is these loons that can be grounded or injured and are in need of help. So while there are not huge numbers in our area, the care of these specialized birds is very different from the more common water birds. Loons live their entire life on the water, so time spent on the land can cause problems. They require special swim pools, lots of fish, and a quiet place in which to recuperate. I have spent the past 8 years observing and learning about loons and what is needed to rehabilitate them. Each loon teaches me something new.
Total loons cared for: 36
Then there are the bats. Until I started working with bats in 2013, I had no idea that these furry little creatures were so gentle and intelligent, and that each has an individual personality. There are very few rehabilitators that are able to care for bats due to the special licensing required. Bats are facing problems including persecution due to misguided fear and fatal diseases such as White Nose Syndrome, and they need help. I created a small "bat cave" to care for these little friends. Since then, the bat areas have taken over the spare room in our house and expanded outside to a beautiful new flight enclosure. In addition, to show people how wonderful and adorable bats really are, I have created and presented educational bat programs and we have set up informational tables at events to talk with people about the benefits of bats.
Total bats cared for: 222
Friends and I formed WildCare of Western New York to not only improve the care of wildlife needing rehabilitation, but also to encompass stewardship of the environment. All animals, including humans, need a healthy planet in order to survive. Our long-term plan includes finding a property with intact wildlife habitats and wetland areas to preserve as a nature sanctuary, along with creating other programs and components of the organization: all with the common goal of helping wildlife and the environment. In future posts, you will be introduced to my partners who will let you know why WildCare of WNY is important to them and how our organization will continue with its mission.