By Steve Coulter
Oklahomans can get help for sick, injured or orphaned wild animals at the WildCare Foundation. They provide a place to bring struggling wildlife with the goal of releasing healthy animals back into the wild.
WildCare has admitted and provided care for over 100,000 sick, injured and orphaned native wild animals. It’s the oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation center in Oklahoma and one of the 10 largest facilities in the U.S. WildCare is located at 7601 84th Street in Noble and has a drop off location at the Oklahoma City animal shelter.
“We are about providing people a place to bring those animals that they encounter. Hit by a car or seen hit by a car. Or they know the mother skunk was killed and they found these baby skunks or whatever the case is,” said WildCare Foundation Executive Director Inger Giuffrida.
And finding an injured wild animal can be extremely stressful. Very few people know how to handle a situation like that.
“Without WildCare they would be stuck either leaving that animal to suffer, or trying to deal with it on its own. That usually is not a very positive outcome. Our first help is to the people that encounter these animals. That are struggling to survive for whatever reason,” said Giuffrida.
WildCare has a surprisingly high daily call volume. In April and May they averaged 113 calls a day. Those calls vary depending on what is going on in the wild. Right now they are receiving a lot of calls on Mississippi kites. It’s a small bird of prey that mainly eats insects.
“I would say twenty five percent of our calls have to do with baby Mississippi kites. That’s because they nest extremely high up in the trees. When there is a storm they get blown out,” said Giuffrida.
Mississippi kites also don’t like the heat. Especially when temperatures reach the upper nineties and hundreds.
“They actually start to jump out of the nest because it’s so hot for them. People find these baby kites on the ground and they come to us,” she said.
WildCare receives lots of calls on deers, geese, raccoons, cottontails, coyotes and opossums.
“We get hundreds, hundreds and hundreds of opossums a year. Opossums carry their babies in a pouch like a kangaroo or wallaby. People know to look in the pouch for the babies. They often bring us babies that they have rescued out of a dead opossum on the side of the road,” said Giuffrida.
Opossums are an extremely beneficial animal in the environment and carry almost no disease. They don’t like to be around people and one opossum can eat a thousand ticks a day.
WildCare provides medical care to injured wild animals in almost every situation possible. Even traumatic and crazy situations.
“I’m sorry to say this. A few days ago, we had two canadian geese that were brought to us. Somebody decided to drive their car through a flock of geese intentionally and kill scores of them. Some that were still surviving were brought to us. That’s extremely ugly and rare. Thank god,” she said.
WildCare also helps people determine whether an animal in fact needs to be rescued by explaining natural animal behaviors.
“A lot of our calls are people not really understanding what they are seeing. They think if they see a baby animal by itself and the mother isn’t there, they’ve been abandoned. Often they are feeding themselves or collecting food. A lot of what we do on the phone is really educating people not to bring animals in that don’t need help. That’s a really big problem in the wildlife rehabilitation field. People unintentionally kidnapping animals because they think they are in need,” said Giuffrida.
WildCare provides medical care, surgery, shelter and nutrition services every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. They have a dedicated staff of animal care and veterinary professionals. In addition to
WildCare’s professional staff, it‘s dedicated 75 volunteers help with animal care, staff events, transporting animals and more.
WildCare has never received state or federal funds relying solely on the generosity of individuals and community groups.
Call 405-872-9338 for help with a struggling wild animal or to make a donation. More information is available on their Facebook page.