WWRA 2018 Conference

The Washington Wildlife Rehabilitation Association (WWRA) Conference was held this year at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in Millcreek, WA. Attendees came from all over, including Oregon and Idaho.

The first day consisted of a morning of general topics and two afternoon breakout sessions focusing on songbirds and mammals. We heard from several experts who shared their knowledge of raptors, deer, and otters and the reduction of pain and stress in wildlife patients.

Dr. John Huckabee presenting  Managing Pain and Inflammation in Wildlife Patients

Dr. John Huckabee presenting Managing Pain and Inflammation in Wildlife Patients

Gail Buhl from The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota spoke about placement of non-releasable raptors in education programs. She also presented their Partners in Wildlife initiative that is aimed at providing small grants to Washington state rehabilitators to improve wildlife care and provide mentorship and training opportunities. The second day, and the songbird breakout on the first day, featured Veronica Bowers from Native Songbird Care and Conservation in California, who gave us the A to Z’s in songbird care and release criteria! The presenters did an excellent job and no one left without learning more about the many facets of wildlife rehabilitation!

This year’s conference also included raffle prizes from the NWRA and small songbird enclosures from Veronica Bowers. Congratulations to all the winners! You can pick up the course book from Veronica Bowers at Native Songbird Care that describes what you need to know about passerine care from nestling to release at the NWRA website (https://www.nwrawildlife.org/store/ViewProduct.aspx?id=4722111).

Thanks also to Patricia Thompson for her review on the Washington Rehabilitation Advisory Committee (WRAC ) work on the current Washington Advisory Code (WAC) which she did in a humorous (not humerus) and informative way! More to come on this topic and we will try to keep you informed along the way. You can also find more by going to the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wrac/. Thanks WDFW for allowing us the use of your excellent facility for our conference!


If you haven’t become a member of the WWRA yet we want you to consider joining us and making our state’s rehabilitators the most informative and highly trained professionals that we can be! More training is planned for 2019 and we have listened to your comments and ideas and hope to bring you more of what you need!

For those members who would like to review the topics presented at this year’s conference you can find the presentations on the WWRA website at wwrawildlife.org. You will also find an application for being a WWRA Board Member. Perhaps you or someone you know would like to be on the board or on a committee to help make our association great!

Conference Program

October 13-14, 2018

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Day 1—Saturday October 13th, 2018

9:30-9:45        WWRA Member Meeting—Mike Pratt, WWRA President

9:45-10:15       Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Committee Review—Patricia Thompson, WDFW

10:15-10:45     The Raptor Factor: Rehabilitation Considerations—Lauren Caruso, PAWS Wildlife Center

10:45-11:15     Managing Pain and Inflammation in Rehabilitation—John Huckabee DVM, PAWS Wildlife Center

11:30-1:00       Best Practices in Placing Non-releasable Wildlife—Gail Buhl, The Raptor Center of Minnesota

2:00-2:15         Partners in Wildlife: Building Excellence in Wildlife Rehabilitation—Gail Buhl

Two tracks for the next two sessions

2:20-3:20         Renesting and Reuniting Passerines—Veronica Bowers, Native Songbird Care and Conservation

2:20-3:20         Oh, Deer! How to Rehabilitate Our Four-legged Friends—Alysha Evans, Whatcom Humane Society

3:30-4:30         Swallows: Tips and Techniques for Successful Rehabilitation—Veronica Bowers

3:30-4:30         Rearing River Otters: Learning to Incorporate Otter Methods—Robbie Thorson, PAWS Wildlife Center

4:30-4:45         Closing remarks


Day 2—Sunday October 14th, 2018

9:00-4:15         Passerine Fundamentals—Veronica Bowers

Conference Abstracts

Patricia Thompson
Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Committee Review - Progress on Rule Change

 A 12-member Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Committee (WRAC) was formed in May 2018 to help the department make recommendations to the Fish and Wildlife Commission to amend the wildlife rehabilitation rules (WACs 220-450-060 through 220-450-220).  Four members were selected from the active wildlife rehabilitation permittees, four from the public, and four from the WWRA, along with WDFW staff. Over the last four-and-a-half months and six meetings the WRAC has examined and proposed revisions to these regulations.  Committee members provided thoughtful recommendations to the department and public representatives viewed the rules from a “beginner’s” perspective.  This talk will provide some summary of the WRAC discussions and brief history of Washington wildlife rehabilitation rules.


Lauren Caruso
The Raptor Factor: Rehabilitation Considerations

 PAWS Wildlife Center admits an average of 3,800 animals per year, 2% of which are raptors.  By standardizing raptor intake procedures, diagnostics, prophylactic treatments, caging, and live prey testing, we have streamlined raptor rehabilitation in such a way that maximizes efficiency and provides a systematic approach to assessing a patient’s readiness to progress to the next stage of rehabilitation.  We supply our volunteers with specific guidelines on how to properly set up and clean animal enclosures, prepare and deliver diets, and record food rations, which helps to maintain consistency and ensure every patient is receiving the care it requires.


John Huckabee, DVM
Managing Pain and Inflammation in Wildlife Patients

 Wildlife rehabilitators receive a wide array of species for treatment and rehabilitation, often presenting with acute or chronic traumatic injuries. Providing pain control is important for reducing stress associated with the injuries and mitigating some of the stresses inherent in captivity. Various medications, including NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), are frequently used by rehabilitators to address pain and inflammatory conditions in wildlife patients. These and other medications will be discussed, as well as additional measures to control pain and inflammation, reduce stress and discomfort, and hopefully improve outcomes in wildlife rehabilitation patients to assure a good chance for long-term post-release survival.


Gail Buhl
Best Practices in Placing Non-releasable Wildlife

 What are the criteria to consider for placing non-releasable wildlife in your care? What criteria do you look for in an education ambassador if you are an educator? This discussion will talk about best practice criteria for placement including: permanent injury; “temperament"; species; age; and educational facilities from BOTH perspectives—the rehabilitator and the educator.


Gail Buhl
Partners for Wildlife: Building Excellence in Wildlife Rehabilitation 

Partners for Wildlife is a new initiative to increase animal welfare in wildlife rehabilitation. We want to do this by working cooperatively with rehabilitators and the veterinarians that assist them.  Partners for Wildlife goals include more effective treatments, better case management, and improved chances of survival and release back to the wild by using mentoring, networking and small grants as tools for wildlife rehabilitators.

Veronica Bowers
Renesting and Reuniting Passerines

Understanding species differences and nesting strategies is critical when attempting to reunite or and wild-foster birds as diverse as swallows and swifts, flycatchers and woodpeckers hummingbirds and doves. Topics covered will include the basics of collecting a detailed case

history, case evaluation and physical exam, methods of reuniting, recommendations for or against wild-fostering, and the importance of follow-up monitoring to verify success

Alysha Evans
Oh, Deer! How to Rehabilitate Our Four-legged Friends

From crashing fawns to catching fawns, let’s talk about deer rehabilitation! Deer require very specific rehabilitation in order to have a successful release into the wild. With such specialized care come many different techniques, tips and protocols. Let’s talk a little about intake procedures, medical treatments, overall husbandry and release! From low blood glucose, fractures, and head trauma all the way to the risks of habituation and imprinting, there are many things that we can quickly analyze and do in order to save their lives.

Veronica Bowers
Swallows: Tips and Techniques for Successful Rehabilitation

Swallows are some of our most beautiful North American passerines and they can be one of the more challenging species to rehabilitate successfully. This presentation will discuss the natural history of our most common swallow North American species, diet and hand-feeding protocols, hand-rearing techniques, common medical issues, fostering orphans, nest replacement, housing requirements, pre-release conditioning, and release criteria.

Robbie Thorson
Rearing River Otters: Learning to Incorporate Otter Methods

The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is an insatiable aquatic mustelid that inhabits the coasts and rivers of the Seattle area. In recent years, PAWS encountered several problems rearing young otters, including metabolic bone disease and pneumonia, which led to a decline in releasable individuals. In this talk we’ll focus on the changes we have made, such as feeding style and nutrition, that have led to our recent successful otter year. From there we will talk about general housing, enrichment, and care to lead our otters to release. 


Veronica Bowers
Passerine Fundamentals

Successful rehabilitation of passerines requires an intense level of well-managed species-specific care. With an emphasis on hand-rearing baby birds from hatchling to release, this class offers an overview of rehabilitating passerines. Topics include hand-rearing techniques, diet and nutrition, basic exam techniques, nestling identification, housing, enrichment, pre-release conditioning, release criteria and best practices for husbandry. Passerines are one of the most diverse groups of animals encountered in the wildlife rehabilitation setting and as such, require the rehabilitator possess a solid understanding of the natural history of the species in their care. We will discuss the importance and application of natural history for quality care.