The Wildlife of the Chesapeake Need Your Help

Chloe Carr, student intern from St. Mary’s college, holding a juvenile Bald Eagle that was rescued from the Chesapeake Bay on December 12.

Chloe Carr, student intern from St. Mary’s college, holding a juvenile Bald Eagle that was rescued from the Chesapeake Bay on December 12.

The Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center (O.W.R.C.) opened its doors in Lusby, Maryland in 1990 and has been serving the community statewide. When they began, they did so to meet the demand for wildlife rescue in Southern Maryland and the Tri-county Area and now serve all of Maryland. O.W.R.C. rescues about 3,000 animals each year, and to date have returned more than 35,000 animals back to the wild. They are licensed in all species and do not turn any wild animal away.

Since 1991, O.W.R.C. has progressively built a wildlife center on three acres of heavily-wooded property that includes the state-of-the-art Wildlife Clinic of Maryland, the Chesapeake Wildlife Education Center, a rescue vessel serving the Chesapeake Bay, and a housing facility for our veterinary interns. In 2014, with the help of their volunteers, they were been able to achieve a 94% success rate for returning animals back to the wild, making the O.W.R.C. one of the most successful wildlife facilities in the country.

Licensed in all wildlife species, they rescue and treat a large array of animals.  Common patients are Bald Eagles, Red Tailed hawks, owls, fawns, raccoons, opossums and songbirds. In winter months they rescue and treat mostly reptiles, migratory water birds, and animals hit by cars.

Some of their accomplishments include: Bald Eagle rescue, construction of a full emergency medical facility for injured wildlife, construction of numerous exercise and flight pens, as well as being the first wildlife rescue in the state of Maryland and the only on-water rescue serving the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

In 2014 alone, they completed their “Eagle One” project which allows them to rescue and rehabilitate Bald Eagles, hawks, owls and other large birds of prey. Construction of a new incubator room for infant mammals and birds and the raptor rescue facilities were completed as well. Beginning April 2015, they will be offering Maryland state and veterinary-board certified educational programs about wildlife and our shared environment. All of these programs will be held in the new Chesapeake Wildlife Education Center located in Lusby, MD. They continue to support “Scouting with our Eagle Scouts” projects as well as other community groups.

At present, they are fortunate enough to have seven veterinarians who volunteer their services at the facility. Fortunately, they have a volunteer staff of 25 dedicated people that they couldn’t survive without.

They have experienced a profound growth rate of 1500% in the last five years, partially due to the closing of so many other wildlife organizations, but also as well as because of the notoriety they have received. In fact, they are now the largest wildlife rescue center in the state of Maryland. The subsequent expansion of their service area, however, requires more volunteers and significantly more funding.

The board of directors have been diligently working to prepare for even further expansion, which has resulted in the group having to take out several loans in the last three years just to keep up with the demand.

O.W.R.C. has an annual working budget of $47,000.00 but we are scraping pennies together to stay afloat. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, we may accept tax deductible donations from the public – our main supporters – as there has been no funding available from the county, state, or federal government to date. They were recently added to the Combined Federal Campaign and their number is #75009.

If any of you have an interest in learning more about the O.W.R.C. and want to donate to their cause, log on to www.orphaned-wildlife-rescue-center.com or call Ron Wexler at 410-326-0937. Any and all support is greatly appreciated by the O.W.R.C. and the animals that they save.

Written by: Ron Wexler

Comments

  1. Contrary to what is stated in this article, this center is not the only on-water rescue serving the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. There are several wildlife organizations which provide this service. We may not own our own boat but we provide the service by either hitching a ride from whomever requested help or borrowing a boat if necessary.

    Another example of false information is the inflated number of wildlife cases per year, about 3,000 according to the article. Simple math and a visit to the center would make this falsehood very obvious. The following is taken directly from their website:

    HOURS:
    Admissions: Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm. Closed for admissions on weekends.
    All other hours, please leave a message. Note: Animals are seen by appointment only. Please be prompt. The animal’s life may depend on it.

    As you can see, the center is only open for admissions 5 days a week for 7 hours per day which is equal to 35 hours per week, 1820 hours per year. If you do the math, this equates to approximately 2 new admissions per hour, every hour they are open. I will grant you that during baby season admission numbers are much higher than at other times of the year. Therefore, if you give them credit for admitting 4 animals per hour, every hour during the 20 weeks of baby season they would be admitting 2800 animals during that time. That would leave over 200 admissions during the fall and winter when the only animals being admitted are those that are injured. In addition, do you have any idea how many people it would take on a full time basis, not just during admission hours, to properly care for that many animals? Infant mammals must be fed every 2-8 hours around the clock for months depending upon age. Baby birds must be fed every 20-30 minutes dawn to dusk. This work is in addition to cleaning, laundry, food preparation, administering medications and the administrative functions required. If the center functions on 8 hour shifts (3 shifts per day) every one of the 18 volunteers (those whom are not veterinarians) would be required to work 8 hours per day, 7 days a week to maintain a staff of 6 around the clock. Even if the volunteers worked these hours, which they do not, it would mean that by the third week of baby season, the center would have admitted 420 animals, 700 by the fifth week. It is not possible for 6 volunteers to properly care for that many animals. The center is very small and it would be impossible for a reporter to visit the center without seeing animals in very large numbers as volunteers are not allowed by law to remove animals from the premises, only licensed master rehabilitators and licensed apprentice rehabilitators in their second year of apprenticeship are allowed to have animals in their possession.

    From the article: “In 2014 alone they completed their Eagle One project which allows them to rescue and rehabilitate bald eagles, hawks, owls and other large birds of prey.” There are no flight pens large enough for bald eagles or large raptors to regain full flight strength. Minimum requirements can be found at the following website: http://www.nwrawildlife.org/sites/default/files/MinimumStandards3rdEdition.pdf.

    The following is from the OWRC website:

    Other resources for information on wildlife rescue and to locate a wildlife rehabilitator near you:

    MWRA: Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
    http://mwra.org/
    MWRA Referral Directory:
    http://www.mwra.org/pages/referral-directory.php
    Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Services
    http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/wlproblems.asp
    Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Listed by County:
    http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/rehab.asp

    OWRC is not listed on any of these sites per their request.

    OWRC is well known for providing contradictory and/or false information. For example, contrary to what is published on the OWRC website, there are more than 5 wildlife centers within Maryland. This is easily confirmed by visiting one of the websites listed above. In an article published in 2013 Ron Wexler is identified as a veterinarian. Mr. Wexler is not a veterinarian. The article can be viewed at the following address – http://stateportpilot.com/topstory/article_af9e09bc-5520-11e3-a5a1-001a4bcf887a.html

    In an article published in the Bay Weekly (http://www.bayweekly.com/…/…/article/rehabilitating-big-bird) in January of this year it states that Mr. Wexler is a veterinarian. OWRC promotes this article on their facebook page. Again, this is a totally false statement.

    Mr. Wexler states on a program produced by Metrocast, a local cable company, that OWRC used to service seven counties in Maryland and now only services three counties because other wildlife facilities have been built and grown. This article states “They have experienced a profound growth rate of 1500% in the last five years, partially due to the closing of so many other wildlife organizations but also as well as because of the notoriety they have received. In fact, they are now the largest wildlife rescue center in the State of Maryland.” Obviously, both statements cannot be true. In addition, the statement that OWRC is the largest widlife center in the State of Maryland is totally false. I’ve been to OWRC and I’ve been to other centers which are just as large or larger.

    It is extremely frustrating for those of us who are rehabilitators and manage fully functional centers when we read articles like this one.

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