Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Bats Over Omaha 2013

The long-awaited, long-anticipated bat release is coming up this weekend! It looks like winds will be favorable and temperatures will be warm enough, so it's time to let our over-wintered little guys take flight.

This coming Sunday, April 28th, 2013. The event opens to the public at 6:30 PM.

Meet us on the lawn of the Joslyn Art Museum. Picnic suppers are welcome! Please leave your pets at home, though.

At 6:30 we'll begin with tables of fun, educational activities for kids, including some opportunities to meet some sweet bats face-to-face! (They will be kept in enclosures until the release begins.) 

At 8, our Executive Director, Laura Stastny, will give a very short presentation and make some remarks. The bats will take wing directly after! You'll be able to see them hop into the air from our volunteers' practiced hands right in front of you.


Why downtown Omaha? I live right near there. Are the bats going to come live in my house?
We release our bats at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha each year. This is a fabulous venue for several reasons — First, it allows you to come out and see the release and to learn more about bats. Second, it is close to home for many of the bats. Most of our bats come from eastern Omaha and there is good evidence to support that the bats "go home" when released. This means when we release downtown, we're giving most of the bats the shortest trip home. If you live in the neighborhood, don't worry — the bats aren't going to make a new roost in your house if you don't have bats there already. They are going to go back to their home roost as soon as they can.

Don't all bats have rabies? 
No! In fact, less than 1/2 of 1% of all bats carry rabies. Additionally, one of the great benefits to keeping these bats all winter is that our experienced wildlife rehabilitators can assure the bats we release are healthy and don't have any problems that would prevent their release. 
Although very few bats carry rabies, it is always critical that if you or someone you know is bit by any wild animal, that you report it to your doctor and the county health department immediately.  In Omaha and surrounding areas, the Nebraska Humane Society is also available to help, and Nebraska Wildlife Rehab staff is willing to answer your questions as well.  For reasonable information about bats and rabies, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/

Will the bats land on me or my child? 
These big brown bats have ONE desire, and that is to get into the air and eat some bugs! During the release we ask the crowd to stand back and volunteers help keep a perimeter so the bats have room to fly.  If you are at the release and asked to step back, it is so the bats have room and to minimize the chance that one lands on you. 

Sometimes they do struggle with taking flight after not flying all winter, however. In the unlikely event a bat lands on you or your child, we ask that you stay calm, raise your hand, and stand still, and a volunteer will come over and get it. Do not touch it. Volunteers will be in the immediate vicinity to help, as we are all keeping an eye out for bats having difficulty taking wing.

We believe this event is the only one of its kind in the United States-- an unusual event where the public is invited to watch such a large number of bats released back into the wild. We at Nebraska Wildlife Rehab are extremely proud to share this wonderful learning opportunity with you, and to serve as ambassadors to these unique and beneficial mammals.     

Bat release is free and open to the public.  Please invite your friends! Hope to see you Sunday night!

Think the bat release is awesome? So do we! We want to keep bringing this to you every year, so Nebraska Wildlife Rehab is trying to raise $150,000.00 to help Great Plains wildlife, including bats, right here in the Heartland. Please help us! Visit our fundraising page and donate now!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Best Help Spring Babies

With our long-awaited, warm, glorious Spring (isn't it such a beautiful day  here in Omaha?!) comes the bulk of our wildlife charges: BABIES! Contrary to popular belief, parent animals will indeed respond to cries of distress and return to their young, even if they have been touched by human hands. Should you find a baby animal, here are some quick tips to help you best help Nature take its course.

*Before removing the baby from its environment, determine whether or not it really needs help. 

Stop and have a good look at your surroundings. Is it snuggled into a nest in the ground, or hidden under a bush? Is there a tree nearby from which it could have fallen? Do you hear any sharp cries from what could be its mother (as with fledgling birds)

Animals have the best chance at survival if they remain with their parents. Oftentimes the parents know exactly where they have tucked their youngsters-- and will come back. Finding a baby out on its own doesn't automatically mean it needs human intervention.  

*Examine the baby with eyes-only.
Is it obviously injured? Can you see blood, puncture wounds or a broken bone? Are there flies around it? Does it seem weak or unable to use its legs? 

Pink, hairless babies with sealed eyes are in grave danger if they are separated from their mothers for even a short time. A healthy baby not in need of help will have a glossy coat, round, bright eyes and a sense of self-preservation, in that it will likely try to get away from you.  

*If you think everything looks okay, leave the baby there  
Baby birds on the ground with most of their feathers are fledglings learning to fly; you should leave it on the ground. You can place a younger baby (no feathers, eyes shut) gently back in a visible nest.

Baby squirrels (if its eyes are open) can be left at the base of a tree.

Bunnies can be placed back in their ground nests and covered with grass or other greenery.

Raccoons pups are almost never far away from their mothers, but the mother will wait for you to leave before she approaches.

In any case, please allow the mother around four to six hours to return.   

*If you determine the baby needs help, help it.
In these instances, call us at Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, then put on some gloves and place the baby carefully into a shoebox or other small container, lined with soft cloth, tissues or paper towels. If possible, please try to avoid any kind of terry cloth, as delicate toenails can be caught in its loops. Cover the baby with more cloth and put the covered (but not sealed) container in a dark, quiet, warm place away from children and pets. If you have a heating pad, set it to low and place the container halfway on the pad. Resist the urge to handle the cute little thing, as they are easily susceptible to shock...and wash your hands well!


Please do not give the baby anything to eat or drink unless instructed to do so by a wildlife rehabilitator.

This is only a very basic outline of how you can help baby wildlife if you find yourself in a position to do so. Rehabilitators with Nebraska Wildlife Rehab are always happy to help you analyze a situation to see if a baby needs to come into care--so if the need arises, don't hesitate to call us at
402.234.2473. And for more detailed information, useful tips on what to do when you find an adult animal, and other interesting reading, please visit our website at www.nebraskawildliferehab.org!
Thanks for all you do!

Nebraska Wildlife Rehab is trying to raise $150,000.00 to help Great Plains wildlife right here in the Heartland. Please help us! Visit our fundraising page and donate! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Where Does Your Money Go?

When you donate to Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, you can be sure every cent of your money goes towards the good of the animals. As we have noted before, we fundraise because the need for our services and expertise is vastly disproportionate to our ability to finance it. More often than we'd like to count, we pay for the animals' care, among other expenses, out of our own pockets.

While this isn't something we mind, necessarily, we are definitely limited by it. When you donate your hard-earned money to Nebraska Wildlife, it goes much farther than what we are able to do ourselves. This is where your money goes:

Rehabilitation – Funds pay directly for formula, food, caging, enrichment, medical supplies, and
veterinary care for the animals we receive each year.

Education – NWRI has education programs on all levels , from elementary school to adult, and
donations help offset the cost to schools and community groups.

Our Wildlife Center – Although Ash Grove Cement Co. generously donates the use of our Wildlife Center building, we still have to pay for utilities, insurance, and upkeep.

Staff Salaries – NWRI has a part-time Executive Director and a handful of educators who are paid small stipends for their work. We are hoping to expand the director’s position to full-time to ensure that we can meet the need for rehabilitation, education, and partnerships in our community.

What Does It Cost to Rehabilitate an Animal?

Here are just some of the average per-animal costs for rehabilitation:

Eastern cottontail rabbit - $10.00
Fox squirrel - $10.00
Songbird - $8.00
Waterfowl/Wading Bird - $15.00
Beaver - $100 (Beavers generally take a year to rehabilitate!)
Woodchuck - $15.00
Opossum - $15.00
Red fox - $50.00
Coyote - $50.00
Bobcat - $75.00

With 2,000 to 4,000 animals per year, these numbers add up quickly!

Won't you help us continue this important work? Please donate-- as you can see, every penny is cherished and wisely used. Go to our 50 States for Great Plains Wildlife fundraising page, to show your support!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Story of the Fox Kits

In late March, a local farmer decided to take down an outbuilding on his farm with a skid loader. It was a small building and only took one good push to knock it down. As the dust settled, he noticed something that looked out of place. He heard something. He ventured closer...and saw five little fox kits in a small nest, just beneath where the outbuilding's floor boards had been. The skid loader wheels had passed right next to their den!

The kind farmer gathered up the kits and put them in the bed of his truck, then called us at Nebraska Wildlife Rehab for help. As a general rule when babies are found, we ask the public to put them back and leave for a while to give the mother a chance to return for her young. The presence of people generally spooks adult animals, and the mother of  most any species will hide and wait for a human to leave before approaching her young. Our farmer carefully replaced the kits, then piled soft dirt around the den so if the mother did return but not move the kits, he would at least see her tracks and know she was nearby. After a night and a day, the mother had still not returned, and the farmer called us back.

One of our veteran volunteers, Treasurer, and now Executive Director, Laura Stastny, drove two hours to take the kits into care. Upon a thorough inspection it was determined that our babies were five females, just a few weeks old, and just beginning to open their eyes.

Laura started them on bottles right away. They have done exceedingly well and are now eating formula and soft foods out of dishes.  

As growing red fox kits do, they are establishing a hierarchy amongst themselves by rough-housing, tumbling, and play-fighting. Once established, a "leader" kit in the wild would get to eat first (due to limited food supply) and push away her siblings. Since Laura is rearing them instead, there will always be plenty of food and so the kits will share.  

In two weeks, these babies will go into a large outdoor enclosure to begin "wilding them out"-- acclimating them to weather changes, allowing them to catch their own small live prey within the enclosure, and letting their natural wariness of humans to grow. Fear of humans is an essential key to any wild animal's survival; we don't want them wandering too near people or cars where they can be hurt or killed. 

The kits will stay in their enclosure to wild out until July, at which time we'll release them (with permission, of course) onto an appropriately-sized tract of land. Hopefully they will be able to make their own lives, and live a long time, after that point! 

If you'd like to see more videos of these little foxes, along with other animals we've taken into care, please visit and subscribe to the Nebraska Wildlife YouTube page.

And if you'd like to help support us in our efforts to save beautiful native wild creatures like these, please donate! Our 50 States for Great Plains Wildlife Fundraiser is running right now, and the animals benefit from every single dollar from generous people like you! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

50 States for Great Plains Wildlife fundraiser begins!

If you follow us on Facebook or receive our email blasts, you've already heard about our ambitious new fundraising endeavor-- gathering 100 donations from each of the 50 states in support of Nebraska's wildlife!

If you're here, you already know that wild animals deserve our help.  People dominate the landscape, and our actions reduce the amount of habitat left for wild animals.  Your donation will help us in our work to ensure that wild animals are given the help they need to survive in this changing world, and to help us preserve wild spaces for generations to come.

Without your generosity, the animals we receive simply won’t get their chance to return to the wild where they belong.

Why Nebraska? 
Nebraska is a great state and the people here are generous.  Unfortunately though, it is often a challenge to obtain funding for, and bring awareness to, environmental issues.  NWRI is on the cutting edge of this effort in the state and need your assistance continue these efforts.  We need the help of our friends across the United States to sustain the work we do here every day.  

The biodiversity supported on the Great Plains is immense and unique, providing vital habitat for migratory birds along the Central Flyway Corridor that spans the state of Nebraska. The destruction of prairies and wetlands due to urbanization, agricultural conversion, and inadequate management is compromising habitat for thousands of mammals, migrating songbirds, wading birds, and waterfowl annually. This reality is made explicit in the report, "The American Prairie: Going, Going, Gone?" which states there has been a 99 percent decline in tall-grass prairie and a 68 percent decline in mixed-grass prairie from historic levels, making prairie grasslands North America's most endangered ecosystem. Despite this report and others, investments for the protection of prairie ecosystems continue to pale in comparison to coastal ecosystems.

The wild birds you enjoy in your backyard – regardless of where you are in the U.S. – may have made their way through Nebraska at some point.  Nebraska is one of the states on the Central Migratory Flyway in the United States.  We host millions of migratory birds each spring and fall as they make their way north or south – and many of those birds come into our care.

Why Support NWRI in particular? 
The demand for our services in Nebraska outstrips our ability to meet it.  With more funding, we can meet the needs of the people and wildlife in Nebraska.

NWRI believes in giving back to our community.  Our volunteers and board members work to make a difference every day in our community through our work with wildlife, students, and even with other non-profit organizations. 

Not only do we believe in engaging in community service ourselves, we work to teach students that their actions can make a difference in their communities as well, and provide them with projects to improve the world around them.

NWRI cares for more wild animals each year than any organization in the state, and emphasizes professional training for its team leaders, volunteers and staff.  We hold membership in the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) and the National Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Association (NWRA), and most of our educators are also certified Nebraska Master Naturalists.

Wild animals in rehabilitation come to us because of the actions of people, accidental and intentional – not because of nature. Only YOU can help us level the playing field and restore some bit of balance to our shared world. 

Please donate now! Visit our fundraising page and help us achieve our goal of 100 $25 donations from each of the 50 states. The wildlife of the Great Plains is counting on you! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

NWRI's recent educational events

Nebraska Wildlife Rehab has been busy!

Over two weekends in February and March, we hosted three classes given by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC). Many people came from within and without Nebraska to attend, with the farthest person coming all the way from Arkansas.

We hosted the Basic Wildlife Rehab (BWR) training for the third time, as well as two other advanced classes: Feeding and Nutrition, and Pain and Wound Management. This was the first time the advanced classes have ever been offered in Nebraska, and we were very proud to be able to accommodate IWRC. Attendance was brisk-- BRW boasted 22 students, Feeding and Nutrition had 16, and Pain and Wound had 19.

In March, one of our fantastic volunteers, Amy Campagna (educator, rehabilitator, and board member), met and talked with Girl Scout Troop 45111 at Maplewood United Methodist Church.

The scouts were studying about caring for animals, so Amy brought several of NWRI's current fosters and engaged the scouts in discussion. They were enthusiastic and attentive, asked many questions, and were thoroughly delighted with the animals and the whole presentation. Educating the public and especially young people is one of NWRI's main functions, a responsibility we take seriously and love to do, so this was a welcome opportunity. Not to mention, a real treat for Amy to spend quality time with some of the smartest students around.


The scouts bid a very generous goodbye to Amy and the animals with a much-appreciated car-load of donations! Troop 45111, thank you so much for hosting us!

 If you would like to schedule a NWRI speaker for your event or group, give us a call at 402-234-2473. You can find possible topics and other scheduling information on our website.

For the 2012/2013 school year, NWRI received a generous grant to work with Collective for Youth in offering environmental and wildlife education programs to students in four OPS middle schools, after school hours. Our volunteers Laura Stastny Amy Campagna, and Matt Cronin have been engaging with students at Marrs, Lewis and Clark, Monroe, and King Science Center for this six-week session on nocturnal animals, entitled Creatures of the Night. In the pictures below, you can see students at King Science dissecting pellets from that mysterious caller in the night, the owl.

Owl pellets are fun to dissect since they are comprised of all the indigestible parts of prey consumed by the owl-- beaks, bones, claws, fur. Pick enough pellets apart and you may be able to reconstruct an entire skeleton...every young scientist's dream.

These are exciting times for NWRI! So many educational opportunities, spring baby season, fundraisers....stay tuned!

Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, Inc. needs a home of our own to care for more animals and provide hands-on educational programs for the students of Nebraska. WE NEED YOUR HELP to make our dream a reality! Please donate today! Interested in learning more about "A Home of Our Own", click here.
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