WILDLIFE TRIAGE & REHABILITATION
Wildlife Rescue of the Month
March to August is Barn Owl nesting season. As their name suggests, this species of owls often nest in roofs and barns, especially as they lose wild spaces. Understandably, this time of year Belize's wildlife organizations receive many calls asking for help with baby barn owls in urban environments. CRC received one of these calls during the last week of February about a nest in a school roof in Santa Cruz. CRC staff removed 6 baby barn owls from the roof and handed them off to Belize Bird Rescue, where they will be cared for and released into the wild. While rescuing, we were able to talk to the wildlife hero who called us as well as some neighbors. Barn Owls are known as the "bird of death" and a sign of evil throughout Belize. This is largely due to their silent flight and harsh scream as well as hisses made by frightened babies. This nickname creates fear and Barn Owls are unfairly targeted, often shot with slingshots or guns. In reality, Barn Owls are great to have around as they specialize in hunting pests like mice and rats. On an average night, one adult Barn Owl can eat 12 mice a night! Thanks to the wildlife hero in Santa Cruz and Belize Bird Rescue, these baby owls will have the chance to live a full life in the wild.
After years of responding to injured wildlife in southern Belize, which included manatee, pelican, iguana, raccoon, and snake rescues, the CRC quickly recognized their role as a wildlife rescue responder in the area. With increasing responsibility to respond to wildlife calls from community members and various partners throughout the country, the CRC soon realized it was imperative to set up a mini-triage center with the appropriate equipment in order to tend to small and severe injuries, stabilizing animals and increasing their chance of survival during transport and arrival to the appropriate veterinary facility or rehabilitation center elsewhere in Belize. Given our close partnership with the Placencia Humane Society (PHS), the CRC and PHS solidified the partnership via the CRC Wildlife Triage Center, located at the PHS clinic. Thanks to an initial donation and support by veterinarian Dr. Gary Martin from Houston, Texas and various other vet supporters from the United States, the CRC is now fully stocked with basic wildlife first aid in addition to training to assist in wildlife triage. A small step, yet big leap, to the future CRC Research, Rehabilitation, and Education Facility planned for the area of the Placencia Lagoon.
Interested in providing supplies for the CRC’s Wildlife Triage Center? Here is a list of supplies that CRC and PHS could use for injured animals (wild and domestic) that come under our care: gauze; abdominal pads; bandages; various size dog/cat kennels for transportation of injured wildlife; donation to build temporary holding pens for injured wildlife; financial donation to assist in gas/transport from Placencia to rehabilitation/veterinary facilities; gloves; compound microscope; dissecting microscope; security cameras for wildlife/croc enclosures.
First up, let's talk about Einstein. On August 12, the Crocodile Research Coalition received a call about a sub-adult (1.4 meters) crocodile inhabiting a family’s 1.5-acre pool near the community of Bella Vista, Toledo District. We visited the site on that very day to assess the situation and set bobbers to hopefully capture it the following day. Several attempts to capture and trap the crocodile were futile as it was extremely wary of our presence. On the evening of September 22, the CRC team decided to go all-in on this crocodile trying a variety of methods to capture it. Observing its behavior, we realized it was best if we waited for nightfall and have the eyeshine to our advantage. With the use of spotlights, a kayak, and the advantage of clear water, we pursued the crocodile in the pool until we managed to get close enough to it and safely noose it out of the water. We recorded data and then transported the male American crocodile to a more comfortable home, the Placencia Lagoon. We named him Einstein after noticing his genius capabilities in deceiving us all this while trying to capture him. This was no ordinary croc and certainly no ordinary capture for us. Our experience with Einstein proved to us the effectiveness of teamwork and thinking outside the box. To catch a predator, you must think like one!
Would you like to learn more about the veterinary or rehabilitation process of animals that come under our triage care? Please check out our partner’s pages to find out more about their veterinary and/or rehabilitation facility, and by all means- don’t be shy to support our colleagues!
Placencia Humane Society: http://placenciahumanesociety.org/
Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic: http://www.belizewildlifeclinic.org/
The Belize Zoo: https://www.belizezoo.org/
Belize Bird Rescue: http://www.belizebirdrescue.com/
Belize Raptor Center: https://www.belizeraptorcenter.com/