Almost all DCHS and Wildlife Center services are by appointment only. If you found a lost animal, need to surrender a pet, found wildlife in need of help, or require another service, please call before coming to the shelter.

May 17, 2022

Help Wild Birds, Fox Kits Heal

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Gifts will be matched to purchase PPE, tests, and supplies so our Wildlife Center can safely admit and care for wild birds and fox kits.

On Wednesday, May 11, Dane County Humane Society's Wildlife Center admitted our first mallard duckling of the year. This duckling was brought to us after being found orphaned, alone, and stranded in a fenced in yard. Normally, the Wildlife Center will see and care for hundreds of ducklings per year. However, due to the rise in HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) cases and the additional costs associated with helping these birds, we might need to limit the number of patients we admit this year.

But you can help!

HPAI, a viral disease that primarily affects birds, emerged on the East Coast in January 2022 and has sadly already caused mass mortalities to wild and domestic birds. Wild species that are particularly high risk include ducks, geese, swans, raptors (especially bald eagles), crows, ravens, gulls, and waterbirds such as coots, grebes, pelicans, cranes, loons, and egrets. Since HPAI is also zoonotic, meaning it could spread to humans that come into close contact with HPAI-positive birds, we are continually increasing our biosecurity measures.

But tragically now, the virus has spread to fox kits. DCHS’s Wildlife Center has received more calls about sick fox kits this year than in non-HPAI years. Officials suspect the spread occurred after fox parents fed their kits HPAI positive birds. Currently, the Wildlife Center is providing supportive care to one kit with an asymptomatic infection, just one of many foxes we anticipate treating for HPAI.

To care for avian and fox patients and prevent the spread of HPAI, our Wildlife Center needs funds for HPAI tests, additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep our people and other patients safe, quarantine housing supplies, and additional sanitation items to maintain biosecurity.

This first duckling will stay at the Wildlife Center while it grows, with the goal of releasing it back into its native habitat in 6-8 weeks. For the first two weeks, it will stay in a quarantined area with other ducklings that arrive.

The fox kit, who was admitted May 6, is also being kept in quarantine away from other animals at the Wildlife Center and will be retested in 10 days to make sure she clears the disease without issue. If the test shows the kit is still positive, she will be retested every 10 days until the result is negative. Once she tests negative, she will be moved out of quarantine to another enclosure where she will continue to grow until she can be old enough for release, in about six months.

To prevent spreading HPAI to other animals and to keep themselves safe, our Wildlife Center staff and volunteers need to suit up in PPE each time they are near the ducklings or fox kits to provide food, care, and any other rehabilitation each animal needs.

Without these tools to keep our Wildlife Center people and animals safe, we likely won't be able to rehabilitate high risk species while the spread of HPAI remains so high. As the only bird rehabilitation center in Southwest Wisconsin and one of the few options for wild mammals, this could leave nearly 400 wild ducks, hundreds of other bird species, and additional wild animals that may contract the virus, without the care they need for a chance to grow and get healthy for release.

Please help us raise $5,000 to cover the cost of PPE, tests, and supplies so our Wildlife Center can safely admit and care for wild birds, fox kits, and other animals at risk. Thanks to the Werndli Charitable Trust, gifts of any size will be matched up to $5,000, so your gift will make double the impact! Matched gifts must be made by May 31, 2022.

To help, you can make a donation online using the form below. You can also mail or drop off your donation at Dane County Humane Society’s main shelter (5132 Voges Road, Madison, WI 53718), with “Heal” in the subject line.

DCHS's Wildlife Center is funded by generous donations from the community. Any additional funds raised will be used to continue the work our Wildlife Center staff does every day to help injured, orphaned, and ill wildlife from throughout the Greater Madison region.

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