Wild animals and birds are injured in Vermont on almost a daily basis. Whether they are hit by cars, injured by pets or intentionally wounded by humans, they often will die without immediate care. But there is hope for wildlife from a network of rehabilitators. Licensed by the state and supported by veterinarians, who donate their time, these individuals have devoted themselves to caring for injured creatures with the ultimate goal of returning them to the wild. Helena Nordstrom is a wildlife rehabilitator. She says that there is a lot to working with wild animals. "You have to know something about ecology, natural history, veterinary medicine. You have to have common sense. You have to be compassionate, but not overly sentimental when you take in animals. And you have to have a strong sense of ethics, too." Animals released back into the wild must be able to hunt for themselves. They must be physically well enough to survive the elements. And most critical of all, they must be afraid of humans. To find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you, call your town clerk, local veterinarian or nearest State Police barracks. We visit Helena and look in on a current squirrel rehab project. We then head to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Woodstock, where Mike Pratt heads up avian rehabilitation efforts for such birds as herons, hawks and owls.
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