Making the rounds after dark one night to check on Teatown's resident animals, Erin Baker, Animal Care Supervisor, was approached by a family carrying box. Peeking inside, she found 7 baby opossums whose mother had sadly been hit and killed by a car. Amazingly, her babies were still safe and snug inside her pouch.
As a trained licensed rehabilitator, Erin specializes in helping injured turtles but has helped the occasional opossum. Knowing they needed immediate help, she took the box home and picked up the phone to find an experienced opossum rehabilitator who could take them first thing the next morning. She just had to get them through the night. And it was a tough one. Erin was up every 2 hours attempting to feed these babies one at a time to keep them hydrated. "It was a very long night, but well worth it because all the babies survived and I learned later on that they were all able to be released back to the wild," said Erin of the experience.
This is the level of dedication needed in a wildlife rehabilitator's. If this sounds like something you would find fulfillilng or if you just want to know more about what to do when encountering injured wildlife, please join Erin on Saturday, March 31 at Teatown for the Wildlife Rehabilitator's Workshop at 10am.
I caught up with Erin and asked her more about what the class is all about.
What information will be covered in the class? The class will provide an overview of what is required, and what it is like to be a wildlife rehabilitator. You will also have the opportunity to see nonreleasable wildlife used to educate the public about their species.
Do you need a license to be a wildlife rehabilitator and, if so, how do you get one? Yes, you must obtain a license from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in order to legally rehabilitate wildlife. This class will detail the steps involved in this process. We will also cover how to get the proper training once licensed.
What are the qualities you need to be a wildlife rehabilitator? Patience, dedication, compassion, and more patience!
What is the time commitment? This will depend on what animals you choose to work with, and will also depend on your schedule. Even if you work full time you may find there are ways you can help injured wildlife.
Do I get reimbursed for my expenses? Unfortunately no. All NYS licensed wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers. Donations may be accepted from the people who bring you the injured animal. But, in truth, you will pay out of pocket expenses. We will go over the financial aspects of what to expect in this class.
What if I’m not sure if I can commit to this—should I still attend the class? Absolutely. You do not have to become licensed in order to help injured wildlife. There are other ways in which you can help local rehabilitators which we will discuss. If you’ve ever encountered an injured animal and weren’t sure what to do next, we will cover these basic steps.
Wildlife Rehabilitator's Workshop will be held on March 31 from 10:00am-3:00pm at Teatown Lake Reservation. If you would like to attend, please call 914-762-2912 x110 to register. The class fee is $20 for members of Teatown and $25 for non-members.
Teatown is located at 1600 Spring Valley Road, Ossining, NY 10562