Friday, June 9, 2017

A Baby Bunny's Harrowing Ordeal With (Spoiler!) a Happy Ending

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a sad and strange squeaking coming from behind the building where I work. I looked through the cracks in the fence, and saw that it was a crow terrorizing some innocent, fuzzy creature! I bellowed loudly at the crow "Hey, stop" or something similar. The crow was startled by my voice and stopped engaging in his blood-thirsty scavenging, leaving the little creature alone. With help from my coworker, we were able to find the little creature. It was an itty bitty baby bunny! The little bunny had run across the way from where the crow had attacked her. In her frenzy to escape, she got her head stuck in a fence. Luckily I work at an animal rescue with vet staff on duty, so I ran to get someone from the vet clinic. With help from them, the bunny was safe and her intimidate medical needs were tended to. We named her Rocky because she is a survivor. The vet clinic we work with deals with domestic animals, so while they were able to do a lot to make sure she was safe and warm, Rocky wasn't in the right place for rehabilitation and reintroduction into the wild. Little Rocky was transported to the local wild life rehabilitation center. A couple of weeks after Rocky's near death experience, we got an email saying she was reintroduced to her natural habitat where she can enjoy her life as a little bunny. They also identified her as a cottontail rabbit. How precious little cottontail Rocky is!

A lot of times when you come across an injured animal, it is difficult to know what action to take. I was lucky in this situation that I was able to get help from trained medical staff. I also knew the bunny was in distress because I saw it terrorized by a crow. But sometimes, it is hard to know the best course of action when coming across an animal that appears to need help. Here are some helpful tips:
  • A no nonsense approach to helping an animal in distress is to immediately contact your local wildlife rehabilitator and describe to them the situation. Their knowledge and expertise are invaluable. 
  • Before interacting with the animal, make sure the animal actually needs your help. For example, on the beaches of Puget Sound, baby harbor seals come to shore. This is natural for them and their mothers will come back to take care of them. But humans often think the animal is in distress and will needlessly interfere. The humans with good intentions end up jeopardizing the seals well being rather than promoting it. Sometimes it is important to observe the animal first. Another such example is when a bird flies into a window. Often times, they are stunned shortly after the incident and will appear harmed. But after they are able to regain their barrings, the bird flies off to a happy life.
  • Make sure you are safe. For example, don't try to save a ferocious bear that is growling and snarling at you. But even small animals can be dangerous, so remember it is important to be both compassionate and practical in these situations. 
  • If you handle an injured animal or abandoned baby animal, wear gloves.
  • Find a safe way to transport the animal to a wildlife rehabilitation center. A cardboard box with air holes is a good tool to use. 
  • The goal should be to get an abandoned or injured animal to someone that can provide the best care for them. Here is a handy list from The Humane Society: List of Wildlife Rehabilitator Resources
  • For more in depth advice and species specific tips, read this, another helpful article from The Humane Society: How to Help Injured and Abandoned Wildlife
In the area I work around Seattle, we have lots of bunnies. Sometimes the dogs bark at them when they see the bunnies during walks, but the bunnies seem unfazed! Sometimes I see them on the way to my bus stop. They are beautiful little creatures.

I always feel lucky when I spot a bunny in the wild. 

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