Snapping Turtle Rounds

The University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic’s mission prioritizes providing care and treatment to sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals. Through this mission, we have the unique opportunity to offer hands-on training to volunteer veterinary students and to educate members of our community about the wildlife around them. Our volunteers are trained to provide exceptional patient care and to engage with our local community through outreach events. One of the ways we prepare our students for working in the Clinic is through weekly educational rounds presentations. These presentations are delivered by speakers ranging from faculty and researchers to our own students, and cover topics related to conservation and various topics within veterinary medicine. Discussing research topics keeps students aware of what is changing in the field and what approaches or medications they could use in the coming years. By presenting clinical cases, our students can reflect on what they have learned and how they should approach a similar case.

Summer veterinary student intern Tina with one of the many white-tailed deer fawns that presented to our clinic this summer!

Continue reading

Making the tough decisions

Here at the Wildlife Medical Clinic, our goal is to treat wildlife to be able to release them back into the wild. If you’ve brought in an animal and called back to get an update on it, you may have been disappointed to learn we humanely euthanized it (put to sleep). This news can be especially difficult to hear if you thought the animal’s injuries were treatable or if you didn’t think it was injured at all, but just orphaned. While an animal’s injuries and how they might be treated are the first things we evaluate when we start to examine or triage an animal, many other factors go into our decision making when we try to determine whether this animal would be able to be released in the future. To be released back into the wild, an animal must be at an appropriate age and able to survive on their own, meaning any recovery from injury must not affect their ability to hunt, forage, reproduce, or move around.

This fledgling (young bird not yet old enough to fly) stretches his wings and vocalizes, displaying appropriate behavior. This bird is too young to be completely independent, but old enough to start feed himself, as evidenced by the mess scattered about his towel. Younger birds with minimal feathering can be challenging to care for in a rehabilitation setting and overall do better in their nest with mom!

If during our exam, it is determined that the animal is not able to fully recover from its injuries, which would result in a decreased ability to survive in the wild, we will elect to humanely euthanize the animal to minimize its suffering.

Here are some of the questions we ask ourselves while triaging these animals to determine whether or not they can be treated to release.

Continue reading