Two young raccoons and an osprey were among the seventy-three animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions included four red-bellied woodpeckers, a great egret, a black vulture, a Florida softshell turtle and a marsh rabbit.
A man running a construction site found the two nestling raccoons in a transfer station filled with horticulture debris. While excavating a large twelve-foot high pile of dirt and debris, two little raccoon heads poked through the debris. Using welding gloves, he contained the two babies in a box and searched the area to ensure no other babies were present. When he called the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for assistance, staff asked for photos of the site and the babies to determine the appropriate course of action. After seeing how small the raccoon kits were, the massive size of the debris pile and the large construction equipment being utilized, it was determined the kits needed to be brought to the hospital for care.
A full physical exam revealed the two youngsters required pain medication and oxygen in our intensive care unit. A milk replacement formula was slowly introduced which the kits eagerly ate by their third feeding. While one kit recovered a bit faster compared to his sibling, both are doing well and continue to show improvement every day. It is astounding that the construction equipment didn’t kill the baby raccoons outright.
Kudos to the attentive construction worker who saw the nestlings and offered assistance. He handled the situation perfectly by using protective equipment (gloves) when handling the raccoons, calling for assistance and texting photos to the hospital staff so we could assess the situation. After it was determined that the raccoons did in fact need professional medical attention, he arranged for them to be transported safely to our facility.
Anemic Osprey Found in Ditch
A staff member from Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve called the von Arx Wildlife Hospital to report an osprey in the ditch along Janes Scenic Drive near the entrance to the State Preserve. The staff member wasn’t on scene with the osprey, but had received calls from the motorist who found the bird on the side of the road. Von Arx Hospital staff called the motorist directly to gain exact details about the situation.
The motorist could tell the osprey was debilitated and unable to fly. Concerned by the depth of the water in the ditch, the woman was determined to help. A man stopped to aide in the rescue as our hospital staff continued to assist the caller and offer guidance on how to safely handle the osprey. The man lived nearby and quickly went home to grab towels and a pet crate. A staff member from Fakahatchee Strand was passing by, saw the rescue taking place and offered to transport the osprey to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital since he was going to Naples.
The osprey was alert when he was admitted and the physical exam showed that he was significantly underweight (less than half the normal body weight). Radiographs did not show any significant issues or fractures. Blood work was analyzed, revealing that the osprey was severely anemic and contained low levels of protein in the blood. The osprey was placed on oxygen in a warmed intensive care unit and monitored closely. Once the osprey was at a normal body temperature, staff provided further medical treatment. The osprey’s condition deteriorated quickly due to severe anemia and hypoproteinemia. Unfortunately, the only humane option was euthanasia.
While the outcome is not what was hoped for, the osprey’s suffering was mitigated and that is what truly matters. Easing an animal’s pain and suffering is equally important as rehabilitating and releasing.Joanna Fitzgerald, Director of von Arx Wildlife Hospital
It was incredibly inspiring to see so many kind-hearted people come together to assist in the rescue. The woman paid the man for giving her his pet crate to use for the rescue, stating that she could keep the crate in her car to be prepared for any future injured animal encounters. This woman was the epitome of a Good Samaritan and everyone involved in the rescue deserves a major thanks for their efforts.
Opportunities to Help
Please visit the Conservancy website to view all of the amazing work done by staff and volunteers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Your volunteer time, memberships and donations are vital in our mission to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.
Joanna Fitzgerald is the Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239-262-2273 or see conservancy.org.