Service Is for the Birds: Vet Tech Student Completes Project at Wildlife Rehab Center
Published on May 3, 2013 by Karen Newmeyer
Morgan Pedersen, veterinary technology degree student at Broadview University-Orem, grew up with dogs as pets and worked a little bit with horses and cattle. When she decided on a service learning project, she wanted one that would stretch her comfort zone while still allowing her to work with animals. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah (WRCNU) provided her with the perfect opportunity to work with wildlife, particularly birds. She had had little experience working with birds so she was excited to see what she could learn.
The WRCNU, located in Ogden, Utah, is heavily supported by a dedicated workforce of more than 250 volunteers. Their mission statement is: “Through wildlife rehabilitation and education we will empower the community to engage in conservation and responsible stewardship of wildlife and habitat.”
Morgan saw this statement in action as she learned from the volunteers and DaLyn Erickson, the wildlife specialist and driving force behind the center.
When Morgan arrived, she thought that she would not be allowed to see the raptors. To her surprise, she was assigned to sweep up the droppings in the raptor area. This allowed her to glance, covertly, at a red-tailed hawk, a barn owl, and a small falcon as their area was being cleaned. She said that the experience was amazing because of the beauty of these powerful birds.
Another opportunity came when she was able to watch the volunteers give fluid therapy to a bald eagle that had lead poisoning. Morgan learned that much of what had happened to this eagle could have been prevented if humans had been better educated on the deadly effects of lead on wildlife.
A few key things Morgan learned:
- The debilitating impact of imprinting.
- The terrible effects of lead poisoning.
- The importance of letting nature take its course.
- Staring too long at a raptor can kill it.
At the WRCNU, they do everything they can to help animals heal quickly so that they can be released back into the wild and with as little reliance upon humans as possible. Morgan was able to help in this process by preparing and logging food for the raptors. Careful records are kept on each bird, including the amounts of food they are or are not eating. This is a critical part of monitoring the health of these birds of prey. All of the food preparations are done in a separate room from where the birds are housed.
Morgan was very impressed by the dedication and efforts put forth by all the volunteers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. She learned so much from them in the four hours that she was there and she is excited to go back and volunteer again very soon.
“I learned so much there,” Morgan said. “Because I was a blank slate, I soaked up as much as I could about anything and everything I could.”
To learn more about the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, visit http://wrcnu.org/.
By Amanda Black