Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

June 22, 2004 > Giving Back to Mother Nature

Giving Back to Mother Nature

by Karen Henderson OHS Wildlife Volunteer

I remember being 11 years old, a wide-eyed Girl Scout, growing up in a Catholic family, making my communion and choosing a confirmation name after a saint whose description was 'guardian to the animals.' Here I am, forty years later, a non-denominational Bible reader, a member of the Ohlone Humane Society, a trained volunteer for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and still a guardian to the animals in an organization that gives animals 'their voice.'

Recently, we became the voice of three out of eight, only day's old, wild mallard ducklings who were rescued from a storm drain by a very concerned and brave 11-year old girl. Five of the eight were turned in to the Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Newark, California under the direction of co-founder Connie Nelson. Three became front-page news and were said to be "kept" by the young girl to "raise at home." This became a major concern to neighbors, the well-read community and the OHS organization members with regard to the safety and future freedom of these tiny creatures of nature.

Knowing, through much experience, the vulnerability and mortality rate of raising abandoned baby mallards due to their possible exposure to hypothermia, nutritional deficiencies, wing development needs for flight from predators, etc. etc., we went into action to retrieve the babies. Nancy Lyon, President of OHS, told me, "Part of being a hero is doing the right thing" which inspired me to ask the parents of this caring young girl to "do the right thing." This meant keeping the best interests of the animals in mind. We must all "do the right thing" keeping the animals in mind.

Working with wild animals, in particular, has been rewarding and an honor for me to be among those who care for and raise with particular expertise nature's babies. The biggest thrill a rehabber will ever experience in their line of work is giving back to Mother Nature her baby in the way of a "release." In that moment, when the animal re-enters its natural world, whether it be the woods, the water, the skies; this word 'freedom' has never meant more, except to those who know what it means to be lucky enough to be living in America.

Remember that wild animals belong to no one. They live their lives naturally as either predator or prey and they find themselves living in very unnatural circumstance, having to co-exist with civilization when communities pop up in places once inhabited only by wildlife.

Just yesterday, several key players in the success of rehabilitating a gun-shot, broken-winged, very majestic, female red-tail hawk gathered for the thrill of a lifetime when she lifted off the ground to soar high in the sky, loudly calling to her many-months-of-rehab, long-lost life's mate who, in return, called back and met her halfway in the sky only to loop-dive figure eights in perfect harmony together once again there wasn't a dry eye in-da' house!

When you find an injured animal or presumed abandoned baby animal, please call your local animal shelter or wildlife rehab center. If you really want to help the animals, then, please - become a volunteer.

To learn about becoming a OHS wildlife rehabilitation volunteer call 510-797-9449.

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