Meet the WMC Summer Interns!

Every summer, the Wildlife Medical Clinic student volunteer base leave campus for their own adventures and learning opportunities. With the summer being our busiest season, we still have plenty of animals to take care of during this period. So, who takes care of all the animals? The WMC student managers and a handful of veterinary student summer interns take on that task! We interviewed this year’s four summer interns about their experiences and the Wildlife Medical Clinic.

Selena Harrison, third-year veterinary student

Why did you apply for the internship at the Wildlife Medical Clinic?

I was a team leader in the clinic this past year and loved helping teach other students about the clinic and about medicine. However, I wanted to take this summer to further my own learning and thought this internship would be my best opportunity.

What is your favorite wildlife species? Continue reading

Butterflies, Salamanders, and Eagles – Oh My! Adventures in our Illinois State Parks

State parks provide a unique opportunity to experience nature and observe local wildlife. You can commit to immersing yourself in the environment for a camping trip or just spend a day hiking. Being able to experience wildlife in their native habitat is a helpful reminder of the importance of conservation efforts. These parks stay clean and healthy through the efforts of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and dedicated community members alike.

We’ve highlighted some state parks and native animals you may find there. If you visit a park on our recommendation, share a photo of on social media and tag the Wildlife Medical Clinic – we would love to take part in your adventure, too!

Bald Eagle – Starved Rock

This park is known for being a home to bald eagles! They flock to this state park during winter months to feast on plentiful fish. They’re not the only wildlife you can look for here. There are miles of trails passing waterfalls, canyons and cliffs. Each of these features creates the ideal habitat for a particular type of animal, so make sure to explore them all!

A species you might spot at any of these parks is white-tailed deer. When fawns are young, like the one in this photo, they hide in tall grass or among foliage to stay safe. They are dappled to resemble sunlight, have no natural scent, and can stay extremely still for hours to avoid predation. To avoid drawing predators to the area, the mother will not approach while you or any natural predators are in the area. Despite this, she is diligent in the care of her young.

White Tailed Deer – Matthiessen

Known for its rock formations, Matthiessen park hosts a variety of ecosystems. White-tailed deer take advantage of the wooded forest’s cover and the nearby prairie’s abundant food sources. For this reason, it was called Deer Park before it became a state park. Deer tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, so if you want to catch a peak it is best to time your explorations accordingly. Continue reading

Why should I care about Virginia Opossums?

Virginia Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) often get a bad rap, but they can actually be helpful to us and our environment!

But wait, aren’t they dangerous wild animals that can infect me with diseases? Yes, they are wild and they can carry zoonotic diseases, so you should be cautious with them, just like any other wild species. However, opossums are general not aggressive and their prime defense is to “play dead” and avoid confrontation. Additionally, they rarely contract rabies (likely due to their low body temperature) so they are a low risk vector for that disease.

Okay so how can they help me? Opossums can actually help clean up pests in the environment because they are opportunistic scavengers that eat things like cockroaches, crickets, beetles, slugs, snails, snakes, and many others. One very important target for them is ticks, which are a significant vector for Lyme disease. Opossums are very good at finding and killing ticks, thus eliminating a substantial amount of them every season. This is not only helpful to prevent disease in us, but also beneficial for pets and wildlife that can contract Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses. Continue reading