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Wildlife Rehabilitation
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Wildlife Rehabilitation
On WILD TV, we get a glimpse of Judith Kirsch and her daughter Maya Klauber's unique relationship with wildlife. A state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator, Kirsch has had an interest in animals her entire life, but growing up in a city garden apartment didn't provide much room for pets. "I was very frustrated because I could only have a parakeet and a mouse," Kirsch says. Today, she lives with her husband and Maya on two acres of land on Long Island and nurses orphaned and injured rabbits and squirrels until they're ready to be reintroduced into the wild. Kirsch and Maya's story is just one example of how enthusiastic people can become involved in rehabilitation and make a positive difference.

Being a wildlife rehabber can be as demanding as it is rewarding. As Kirsch says, "It can be a full-time commitment. I'm lucky enough to have a daughter and a husband who are very supportive." Rehabbing animals can involve a multitude of activities, such as bringing a sick or injured animal to a veterinarian for a consult, taking calls from civilians at all hours of the day, and of course hosting and caring for dozens of animals.

One simple rehabbing scenario Judith and Maya might face involves taking in an orphaned newborn squirrel -- called a pinky because it's deaf, blind, and furless. At this point, it's a very vulnerable creature: unable to regulate its own body temperature, it's kept in an incubator or on a heating pad until it grows fur. Feedings come early and often -- a newborn squirrel has to be fed eight to ten times a day with commercial formula and special syringes and nipples ordered from England.

As the squirrel grows, it needs less food. When its eyes open at approximately five weeks of age, it still is nursed but also begins to eat solid food. After this, there's approximately ten more weeks of what could include physical therapy, exercise, and pre-release conditioning before the squirrel is ready to hop off into the woods. All in all, it's no small task, especially when one considers that a rehabilitator like Kirsch takes care of 20 rabbits and between 20 and 40 squirrels at any one time!

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Related Links:

Locating a Wildlife Rehabilitator
Find links to listings of wildlife rehabilitators and centers by state and country.

Application for New York State license
An application enables an individual to "temporarily possess distressed wildlife for the purpose of providing care to sick, injured or orphaned wildlife for return to the wild."

National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
Information about careers in wildlife rehabilitation.

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