Only Local Wildlife Care Center Needs Help; Volunteer Training March 19

By: 
Times Staff Report
Staff Writer

Close to 450 wounded or orphaned animals per year pass through the doors of the Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care center in and it’s more work than the tiny staff can handle, especially since they just lost one of the best volunteers, Betty Cameron, to a car accident near Bishop two weeks ago.
So the ESWC staff is hoping for some help, with a volunteer training session offered next week on March 19 (see below).
While trained staff provides critical animal care, volunteers provide help in just about every case.
"We couldn't do it without our volunteer help," said Kelly Bahr, Assistant Director of the Eastern Sierra's only wildlife rehab facility, which is located in little Keough’s Hot Springs south of Bishop.
“Rescue, transport, and animal care volunteers receive special training in handling wildlife,” she said. “Volunteers prepare diets, feed, clean cages, wash dishes, build or repair cages and they also help with education and outreach programs, fundraising and more."
In the meantime, the work goes on, as the story of a young bald eagle injured near Coleville can attest – and this is just one such call in a near-daily series of calls for help that come from Good Samaritans who have found injured or orphaned animals.
On March 1, late in the afternoon, Kamler answered the phone at ESWC.
"There's a Bald eagle up here in Coleville; it can hop around but it can't fly," said the caller, who goes by the name of Gaby.
"Can you get it contained in a large box or carrier?” Kamler asked. “You will need gloves and a heavy blanket or towel. If not, please keep an eye on it while I call some nearby volunteers for help."
She pulled out a list of volunteers ranging from Death Valley and Lone Pine to Bridgeport and Walker and urgently began a series of phone calls.
"With long-distance emergencies," Kamler explained later, "we often end up with a "Pony Express” situation. One person takes the rescued animal part-way, the next does the same, until the injured bird or mammal arrives at the center."
In Coleville, volunteers Carla and Steve rescued the eagle, put him in a box, and volunteered to drive him to Lee Vining.
Kamler then called the Mono Lake Committee and reached Nora, who had driven an injured bird to ESWC not long before.
Nora agreed to drive the Bald eagle from Lee Vining to Bishop where Kamler and Bahr took over, getting the bird to Keough's Hot Springs where he was placed in a critical care cage to rest overnight.
Next morning, Kamler and staff members Kelly Tallon, Danielle Hensil, and Justin Stravalle examined the eagle, finding a possibly fractured wrist. Unable to hunt, the large raptor was on the edge of starvation. He was given subcutaneous fluids and the injured wrist stabilized with a Figure Eight bandage.
Despite his weakened condition, this mature eagle was a fierce presence and over the next few days, although stressed by confinement, the magnificent bird of prey consumed dozens of trout from the Fish Springs Hatchery, regaining strength.
"We contacted Kim Stroud of the Ojai Raptor Center; she agreed to take the eagle for further medical care,” said Bahr. “Their last adult Bald eagle patient was ten years ago!
Transport from ESWC to Ojai was provided by an Ojai volunteer who was skiing in Mammoth and the bird made its way to Southern California.
The report from Ojai came back a few days later, with x-rays showing that the fractured wrist is partly healed.
That means the eagle will need conditioning and physical therapy if he is to regain flight.
"It will be a long time before we know whether he will fly well enough to be released," Bahr said.
The bottom line is the ESWC center needs help, especially with their busiest season, spring, right around the corner.
Spring is when most animals have their babies and that means a lot of work is ahead for the center over the next few months, as babies fall out of nests and/or get separated from their parents, or get injured.
"We need volunteers,” said Bahr.
“Volunteers have played pivotal roles in hundreds of cases throughout the years,” she said.
"I attended an orientation six years ago and discovered that I loved working with the animals,” said Bahr. “Don't miss our upcoming orientation."

IF YOU WANT TO HELP
Free Volunteer Orientation, Sunday, March 19, 1-3 p.m., Imagination Lab, 621 W. Line Street, #204, Bishop.
Call 760-872-1487 to reserve a place.

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