Bi-State Wildlife Hotline offers easy, effective and humane solutions to solve human/wildlife conflicts throughout the region
By Brett Auten
As the weather warms and the days start to stretch out, our co-inhabitants are just as anxious as we are to spend more time out and about.
Spring is here and that means wildlife encounters with humans, as they do every year, will begin to occur more often. That is where the Bi-State Wildlife Hotline steps in.
Often these animals do not need human intervention at all. The Bi-State Wildlife Hotline strives to make sure that callers get answers immediately before any harm can be done to either the animal or yourself. If an animal is determined to need assistance, they are here to help. The number one priority is to do what is best for the animal, 24-hours-a-day, seven days per week.
“If we had room in our budget for billboards we would plaster them with, ‘Put the bunny back down,’ and ‘Do not feed the animals,” Angel Wintrode, President of the Bi-State Wildlife Hotline said. “Sometimes it is obvious. The animal is bleeding or covered in blood. Other times it is not.”
The Bi-State Wildlife Hotline, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that launched in 2011 that runs on the support of private donations, without federal or state funding. It is 100-percent volunteer staffed by veterinary technicians, veterinarians, animal care workers, wildlife professionals and other animal lovers of all kinds. It started with a simple goal to offer callers easy, effective, humane solutions to solve conflicts without having to hire anyone to trap, kill or relocate animals. It is also happy to be able to offer a more centrally located option for residents who find sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in need of help.
Nancy Hunt, of St. Peters, has been with the hotline since the beginning. Hunt brings over 20 years’ worth of experience in wildlife rehab to the team.
“It is really fulfilling to take an animal and raise it back to where it belongs,” Hunt said. “So many of them are down because human intervention whether it’s trees being cut down, habitat destroyed or someone pulling a mother out an attic and then the babies come to us.”
Hunt will never forget when a woman called claiming to see a Chupacabra. The only problem being is that the Chupacabra is a mythical creature.
“It was a coyote with mange,” Hunt said. “It had no hair so it was gray and crusty looking and it did sort of look like the picture.”
A common call in the coming weeks will be for fawns. Apparently, deer are not what you would call helicopter parents, with the mother often leaving their fawn unattended for up to 22 hours-a-day.
“You don’t expect to see them and then there they are looking so frail and alone,” Wintrode said. “You assume they need help but trust us, it is normal.”
Hunt knows too well that in that situation, looks can be deceiving.
“A man had called about a fawn being down for several days and he had lots of acreages and it was way in the back,” Hunt said. “We walked way out there, found the fawn, went down to pick it up, and I could hear the mother in the tall grass about 25-feet away. We shined a light, and sure enough, it was the mom and the baby was fine and we just slowly walked away.”
Wintrode and the team have been on the other end of the phone when some good intentions and resulted in bad results like feeding baby bunnies cow’s milk or giving baby birds water through a dropper. Both instances have caused death to an animal in the past.
“In many instances, the animals need warmth, the proper fluids, and medical care much more so than food,” Wintrode said.
Its headquarters is located in Black Jack, near the Florissant area of North St. Louis County but its reach is widespread. It has added licensed rehabilitators and rescue staff in Springfield, North St. Louis, Florissant, South County, Wildwood, and Farmington in Missouri.
The Bi-State Wildlife Hotline is accepting new volunteer applications and offers free training for new applicants once annually. This year’s New Volunteer Training will be held on March 30 from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Humane Society of Missouri at 1201 Macklind Ave. in St. Louis. Interested parties must fill out an application online at www.wildlifehotline.com/volunteer before attending. To learn more, please visit www.wildlifehotline.com. You can call toll-free at 1-855-WILD-HELP / 1-855-945-3435 or locally at 636-492-1610 to speak with a wildlife specialist now.
CUTLINE: Submitted photos