NJAWR 2012 Annual Conference

This year’s annual conference, held on March 24th, 2012 at Princeton University was a huge success! The best attended conference in years included over 80 participants from the tri-state area from wildlife rehabilitation and related fields. We would like to thank everyone who came out to support NJAWR and enjoy a day filled with networking, workshops, and lectures. This year’s conference speakers included an exciting array of experts in the field of wildlife rehabilitation and veterinary professionals including Dr. Erica Miller, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research – DE, Dr. James Boutette, Animal and Bird Health Care Center – NJ, Barb Hollands, Vice President of the New York State Wildlife Rehabilitators Council, and Dr. Karen Dashfield, Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary – NJ. Topics and workshops included wound management, initial animal intake and assessment, and vaccination information.

Click here for 2012’s conference topics and speakers!


Highlights from the NJAWR 2009 Annual Conference

The NJAWR annual conference was held on Saturday, March 21, at Princeton University. This year’s theme, Wildlife Rehabilitation Appeals to Humanity, opened with keynote speaker John Satta from AlphaPoint, Inc. John helped us refocus on the one species that collectively benefits the most from our efforts—humans—and how to hone our skills as wildlife advocates to appeal to this species’ humanity.

Following the keynote speech, we received an illuminating update on the NJ Wildlife Rehabilitation program and wildlife intakes from Amy Wells, a Standards and Procedures Technician and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Program Coordinator for the Division of Fish and Wildlife. The average age of a wildlife rehabilitator is now 57. The past 10 years have seen a steady decline in the number of individual rehabilitators in NJ. Today, 3% of total intake is handled by individuals and 94% is handled by non-profits and government agencies. Who is mentoring the next generation of rehabilitators? Analysis shows that most mentors are individuals, and concerns include the ability of these individuals—who may lack the support system of a larger facility—to provide leadership not only in rehabilitating wildlife but also in working professionally with the public and gaining experience in raising the necessary funds. Currently, 80% of the wildlife are handled by 20% of the rehabilitators. What can we do to interest more people to become a rehabilitator and ensure they learn the skills necessary to remain viable?

We then broke off into individual sessions. As always, it was tough to choose which concurrent ones to attend! Topics this year included:

“The Stuff They Didn’t Teach You in Rehabilitation School” track – This track consisted of four interactive sessions that focused on developing short- and long-term goals, breaking down plans into practical and manageable steps, how to get the work done while maintaining your sanity and sense of humor, tips for leading a championship rehabilitation team, and ways to deal with the public and obtain funds.

Radiology overview – How much information about radiology can you pack into two hours? Quite a bit! This session included a brief overview of the technology, when to take a radiograph, how to restrain and position an animal for an effective image, and actual case studies that tested our investigative skills. (How did that small animal swallow such a large bolt??)

Educational outreach programs – You’ve been tasked with educating a room full of young faces about the natural world around them. Where do you start, and how do you capture—and keep—their attention? This workshop provided lots of tips and examples of programs you can easily adapt to your own needs and age group.

White Nose Syndrome update – WNS is deadly to bats, has spread to sites in NJ and PA, and is poorly understood. This session described the studies that are currently underway to learn the possible causes of this condition, its physiological and clinical effects on bats, and energy expenditure associated with hibernation.

The shell game – This wildly fun and informative session covered turtle anatomy, handling techniques, exam priorities, fluid therapy, euthanasia, release criteria, shell repair, ear abscesses, pain management, and salvaging and incubating eggs. All in an hour, you say?

Medical math – For all of us with decimal point phobia or real fear of accidental overdoses, this session made math fun (well, almost). Within minutes, we were calculating fluid amounts, determining kilo-calorie needs, and figuring an accurate drug dose.

When rabbits go bad – Dealing with the public is not always easy and sometimes leads to surprises—not necessarily pleasant ones. In this session, a rehabilitator described how easily animal intakes (in this case, juvenile rabbits) can go wrong in the hope that her experience will help us prepare ahead for the possibility of a nasty public encounter.

Parvovirus outbreak – A rehabilitator shared her experience with how a feline parvovirus outbreak had devastating effects on her raccoon patient population and what she learned about recognizing early symptoms, effectiveness of treatments, and importance of quarantining procedures in preventing future outbreaks.

The day ended with an informative discussion of how to prepare our avian, mammalian, and reptilian patients for release including such factors as physical condition, behavior, and proper caging.

Just prior to our own release from the conference, we readied ourselves for the upcoming busy season with raffle goodies. Have a great season, everyone!

Highlights from the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium 2008

Thanks to all who attended the 2008 National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium on March 4-8 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

NJAWR’s newest Board member, Michael Ginder, had these observations about the NWRA conference:

It was worth the price of admission. We have all heard this phrase used, but when it came to the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association’s 2008 Symposium this past March it was worth five times the price of admission. This year we were fortunate to have it held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, with Tri-State Bird and Rescue Research as the host committee and NJAWR helping to coordinate. What a great opportunity for the rehabilitation community of the Garden State to learn new things, hone skills, share knowledge, and connect with old friends as well as make new ones.

The NWRA Symposium is something that anyone involved in wildlife rehabilitation should attend. Each year NWRA holds the symposium at different locations across the country, bringing together wildlife rehabilitators, veterinarians, educators, animal control officers, volunteers, and governmental representatives to network and update their skills.

One of the best reasons to attend the symposium is to learn from our peers and professionals about what is current and what is being tried. I want to learn how other people do things; the more tricks in the bag, the better care I can give to wildlife. Even something that generally works for a species may not work for every individual. So you never know when a piece of knowledge might come in handy.

Aside from the knowledge gained, the connections and friendships made are more than worth the price of admission. I met rehabilitators from Ohio, California, Florida, Virginia, Canada, India, Washington, Maine and many other places. We talked about the lectures, our facilities, our animals, and ourselves. We shared techniques and protocols, cage designs and diets. We told each other our stories, our successes, our failures, our joys and our heartaches.

The NWRA does a good job of bringing a top-notch, professional symposium to our community each year. The conference in New Jersey was one of the best. There was something for everyone, whatever your involvement with wildlife rehabilitation. I certainly picked up some good information and now have some new pals. If you missed this symposium, consider attending next year. Of course, our state conference held by NJAWR in 2009 will be just as inspiring and productive, so don’t miss that one!

Highlights from the NJAWR 2007 Annual Conference

The NJAWR annual conference was held on Saturday, March 31, at Princeton University. It was co-sponsored by the Princeton University Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and attendees seemed to thoroughly enjoy the rich environment Princeton’s campus had to offer.

This year’s theme, Conserving Our Natural Resources, opened with keynote speaker Lawrence Niles from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Larry worked for many years with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and shared his knowledge and forecasts regarding our state’s conservation programs.

Dr. Felecia Niebojeski assisted Dr. Andrew Major from the Raptor Trust with a 2-hour anatomy workshop. Workshop participants were given a basic knowledge of anatomy and normal parameters of health for both avian and mammal species through the use of cadavers.

Mari Donovan, the 2007 Scholarship winner, shared her thoughts about the conference: “There is so much more to be learned from the experiences of others than I could ever have gleaned from a text book. I truly enjoyed and benefited from the conference and look forward to next year. Thank you so much for all the effort that goes into making the conference such a wonderful experience.”