A cry for help: wildlife re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion

Moose Jaw Express.com - - Front Page - By Dou­glas Hallman for Moose Jaw Ex­press Pho­tos by Dou­glas Hallman

What does it take to work reg­u­lar hours as a vet­eri­nary doc­tor and then to add the task of treat­ing 21 ducks, eight robins, five black­birds, eight rac­coons, a great-horned owl and a white-tail deer just 10 days old, two snowy owls, two squir­rels, a golden ea­gle, a hawk, a mag­pie and a morn­ing dove? It means the day be­gins at 6 a.m. and it doesn’t fin­ish un­til close to mid­night. What kind of per­son does it take to look af­ter 50 in­juries at one time? The com­mit­ment comes with a keen aware­ness that crea­tures have con­scious ex­pe­ri­ences. Like hu­mans, they know joy and sor­row, pain and suf­fer­ing, and with the fret­ful con­fu­sion of a painful in­jury, they yearn for re­lief and a re­turn to what they have al­ways known. There is ev­ery in­di­ca­tion that Dr. Me­lanie Blager is deeply in touch with wildlife ex­pe­ri­ences. Even as a child, she found her­self res­cu­ing crea­tures in trou­ble. “I’ve been sav­ing them all my life, even when I was a kid.” Blager came to Moose Jaw with her hus­band Roger in 2000. Some­time later, she ac­cepted a po­si­tion at the Moose Jaw An­i­mal Clinic at 1885 Cari­bou St. W. It was there she was re-en­gaged by the work of wildlife re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. “Peo­ple would bring young birds they had found on the ground, and there was no one to help them.” Blager is one of the few peo­ple in the prov­ince who treats birds of prey. Over time, she has ex­panded the types of wildlife un­der her care. “Ev­ery year since 2000, the num­bers have dou­bled, and now I work at re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing over 200 an­nu­ally. The ma­jor goal is to re­turn the in­jured and or­phaned to their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.”

When Blager speaks about her ef­forts, the “af­fect” is ev­i­dent. Her con­cern for the in­jured is in­scribed on her face and em­bed­ded in words. “It is heart­break­ing to work with an an­i­mal for weeks and weeks, and to have some­thing go wrong. I re­con­struct a wing, and then one day, it falls apart. The re­ward is with the ones you can save. There is great sat­is­fac­tion to set­ting them free, know­ing they can go back to do­ing what they were meant to do in the wild.” Blager has earned a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion per­mit from the prov­ince and she is a mem­ber of the Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion So­ci­ety of Saskatchewan (WRSOS). She has es­tab­lished “Wild and Cared Free Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Inc.” in Moose Jaw. The WRSOS hot­line for an­i­mals in dis­tress is 306-242-7177. Laura Wil­liams and her hus­band Pat Leibel own Carousel Acres. Re­cently they held a fundraiser for Blager on their prop­erty. Wil­liams ex­plained why. “I have known Me­lanie for a long time and I know how much she cares for an­i­mals. I also know from my own ex­pe­ri­ence that vet­eri­nary care is ex­pen­sive. Me­lanie of­fers the ex­per­tise, but she car­ries the as­so­ci­ated costs. We hosted this fundraiser to pro­vide her with much needed sup­port.” Roger Blager re­ports that the event was a suc­cess. “In spite of the rain and mud, there was a good turnout, every­body had fun and we raised more than $2,000.” There are all kinds of ways to sup­port Wild and Cared Free. Vol­un­teers are needed to cap­ture and trans­port in­jured and or­phaned wildlife, to feed, clean, treat and pre­pare food, to col­lect do­na­tions of bed­ding and an­i­mal cages and to help out in fundrais­ers for build­ing sup­plies and feed­ing costs.

Dr. Me­lanie Blager and ea­gle named Thora

Laura Wil­liams and Pat Leibel at Carousel Acres

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