Wildlife rehabilitator Heather Bedard of Waterloo recently got a phone call about six baby raccoons that a homeowner had removed from a nest on his property. She asked him to help her reunite the babies with their mother and, although he initially refused, he eventually humanely trapped the mother.
The babies had been separated from their mother for four days, and Bedard was worried that the reunion would not go well. Turns out, she didn't need to worry.
"As soon as the babies made noise the mom perked up and you could tell she was frantic," Bedard says.
She had the babies in a kennel and the mother in a live trap. When the mother was released, Bedard says, "She bee-lined right into the kennel with the babies and I could immediately hear nursing and sucking."
Bedard says that if you find a wild animal that seems to be in need, use caution. Humans often intervene when they don't need to. For example, baby rabbits and fawns are often left alone for long periods. If humans don't interfere, their mothers will return. Baby birds and other animals can often be returned to their nests or left in a safe place nearby.
Only handle wildlife with proper protection, and when in doubt, call a local wildlife rehabilitator for help and advice. But if you do end up touching an animal, you can put them back in their nest without worries. The common myth that if you touch a baby animal, it's mother will abandon it, is just that - a myth.
On this segment of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Bedard about becoming an apprentice wildlife rehabilitator via The Blackhawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project.
Bedard says that almost all wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers. They donate their time and often spend their own money to care for orphaned and injured wildlife. She adds that it's not easy to be a rehabilitator, but it's a wonderful opportunity for people who really love caring for animals.
There is also a growing need in the field as older wildlife rehabilitators retire.
"We definitely need people to help," she says. "Even if you don't do animal rehab yourself, there are a lot of ways to help."