Voices of the Plains: Animal Advocacy
A monthly series hosted by the Center for Great Plains Studies Graduate Fellows.
This installment will highlight the ongoing work of groups involved in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, pet rescue, and education.
Laura Stastny is the Executive Director of Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, Inc. She is an IWRC Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator and has been a multi-species wildlife rehabilitator and public educator for more than 20 years. Stastny has extensive experience in animal-related fields – She has worked as a veterinary practice manager; was the executive director of a humane society and conducted cruelty investigations for the state of Minnesota; and has served on disaster relief and wide-scale rescue teams for the HSUS. She has spent part of her professional career in the financial services industry and all of her adult life involved in the operations of small non-profits – as an employee, board member, or volunteer.
Paul Grosskopf is a Graduate Fellow at the Center for Great Plains Studies and an English PhD student in Literary and Cultural Studies. He graduated with a B.S. from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and an M.A. from Northern Illinois University. At UNL, Grosskopf splits his time between teaching in the English Department and working as an editorial assistant in the Willa Cather Archive. His research interests include fat studies, print culture, transnationalism, and modernity in American literature and culture.
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[00:00:05.100]Welcome to the Voices of the Plains.
[00:00:07.660]My name is Margaret Jacobs,
[00:00:09.240]and I'm the Director
[00:00:10.277]for the Center for Great Plains Studies.
[00:00:12.830]The Center is based at the University of Nebraska,
[00:00:15.870]which is a land-grant institution with campuses and programs
[00:00:20.390]on the past, present,
[00:00:21.460]and future homelands of the Pawnee, Ponca,
[00:00:24.810]Oto-Missouria, Omaha, Dakota, Lakota,
[00:00:28.180]Kaw, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Peoples,
[00:00:31.580]as well as those of relocated Ho-Chunk,
[00:00:33.890]Sac and Fox and Iowa Peoples,
[00:00:37.838]and we just like to acknowledge all the indigenous peoples
[00:00:41.910]in this area and honor them for allowing us
[00:00:47.770]really to be here today.
[00:00:51.670]So the Voices of the Plains is a new online series
[00:00:55.960]that the Center for Great Plains Studies just started.
[00:00:59.070]This is only our second event.
[00:01:01.870]We started this to amplify the voices
[00:01:04.210]of distinctive communities on the Great Plains
[00:01:07.390]whose perspectives have historically been marginalized
[00:01:11.040]or underrepresented, or sometimes totally misunderstood.
[00:01:16.600]This new series is brought to you,
[00:01:18.710]it's designed by, planned by,
[00:01:20.831]and carried out entirely
[00:01:22.920]by our dynamic group of graduate fellows.
[00:01:26.210]These are graduate students who come from fields
[00:01:28.430]as diverse as civil engineering, biological sciences,
[00:01:32.050]English, teaching, learning,
[00:01:34.000]and teacher education and natural resources.
[00:01:37.390]And if any of you are graduate students
[00:01:39.560]who might like to be a graduate fellow of the Center,
[00:01:42.130]we will soon be announcing
[00:01:44.350]our recruitment of graduate fellows,
[00:01:46.270]new graduate fellows for the coming academic year.
[00:01:50.170]So our graduate fellows have combined
[00:01:52.430]their many interests and expertise
[00:01:55.360]to create this series of accessible conversations for you.
[00:02:00.320]Our host this evening is Paul Grosskopf.
[00:02:03.760]And Paul is a Graduate Fellow and an English PhD student
[00:02:08.740]in Literary and Cultural Studies.
[00:02:11.170]He graduated with a BS
[00:02:13.590]from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point,
[00:02:16.520]and an MA from Northern Illinois University.
[00:02:19.850]And at UNL,
[00:02:21.070]he splits his time between teaching
[00:02:23.030]in the English Department
[00:02:24.130]and working as an editorial assistant
[00:02:26.220]in the Willa Cather Archive.
[00:02:28.470]So I'm gonna turn it over to Paul,
[00:02:30.680]and thanks, everybody, for being here tonight.
[00:02:34.080]Hello, and thank you,
[00:02:35.460]yeah, once again, everybody, for coming tonight,
[00:02:37.950]I'm very excited,
[00:02:39.030]and I think we're gonna have a great conversation,
[00:02:43.480]and obviously we have a great presentation speaker
[00:02:45.640]to look forward to.
[00:02:47.760]The event for this month is centered
[00:02:50.580]around annual advocacy groups in the Plains generally,
[00:02:54.330]but Nebraska specifically.
[00:02:56.860]And, yeah, with that in mind,
[00:02:58.530]I wanna go ahead and introduce our speaker, Laura Stastny.
[00:03:05.100]She is the Executive Director
[00:03:07.440]of the Nebraska Wildlife Rehab.
[00:03:09.770]She is an IWRC Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator
[00:03:13.910]and has been a multi-species wildlife rehabilitator
[00:03:16.920]and public educator for more than 20 years.
[00:03:19.870]She has extensive experience in animal-related fields,
[00:03:23.187]she's worked as a veterinary practice manager,
[00:03:26.140]was the executive director of a humane society,
[00:03:29.410]conducted cruelty investigations for the State of Minnesota,
[00:03:32.720]and has served on disaster relief
[00:03:34.590]and wide-scale rescue teams for the HSUS.
[00:03:38.888]She has spent part of her professional career
[00:03:41.320]in financial services industry
[00:03:42.840]and all of her adult life involved in operations
[00:03:45.730]with small nonprofits as an employee,
[00:03:48.250]board member or volunteer.
[00:03:50.760]So, yeah, and at this point,
[00:03:53.470]we will go ahead and turn it over to you, Laura.
[00:03:56.350]And then yeah, following your presentation here,
[00:04:00.970]we'll open things up for Q&A and a discussion.
[00:04:05.143]Thank you so much.
[00:04:05.976]So I'm gonna try to share my screen here.
[00:04:08.060]It should work.
[00:04:12.660]All right, how's this?
[00:04:14.590]Oh, it looks great.
[00:04:15.570]All right, perfect.
[00:04:17.040]Okay, so of course it's on the wrong screen right now.
[00:04:20.970]I'll move you off.
[00:04:22.020]I can't move my camera,
[00:04:23.020]so you're gonna see me looking off to the side a little bit,
[00:04:25.010]but I can kind of look at my camera, sorry.
[00:04:27.550]I'm not the most technologically advanced person
[00:04:30.120]in the world.
[00:04:31.540]Okay, well, thank you guys for having me tonight.
[00:04:33.410]I'm really glad to be here and to talk to you
[00:04:36.210]about Nebraska Wildlife Rehab,
[00:04:38.010]and what we're doing here.
[00:04:40.610]Paul left the topic kind of wide open to me,
[00:04:43.690]so I think what I'd like to do today
[00:04:45.610]is to tell you a little bit about Nebraska Wildlife Rehab,
[00:04:49.180]who we are and what we do,
[00:04:50.730]and what we have been doing particularly in the past year.
[00:04:54.070]And then maybe to talk a little bit
[00:04:55.670]about what I read was the intended purpose
[00:05:00.610]of this discussion and this speaker series,
[00:05:05.860]and just get your feedback and talk to you
[00:05:07.840]about anything you wanna talk about.
[00:05:09.570]I can talk about almost anything.
[00:05:12.410]So I don't tend to read from my slides,
[00:05:14.220]but I'll move through them
[00:05:16.800]as I go through this presentation.
[00:05:18.730]Nebraska Wildlife Rehab is a nonprofit organization
[00:05:22.590]and we work under permits
[00:05:24.010]from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
[00:05:25.850]and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[00:05:28.540]And we are here as a group of an organization
[00:05:33.040]that supports professional wildlife rehabilitation.
[00:05:36.135]And we'll talk about kind of what wildlife rehab is,
[00:05:39.080]and how we do it.
[00:05:40.910]We're here with a twofold mission.
[00:05:42.670]Of course, like all organizations,
[00:05:44.390]we have a mission, and a vision, and value statement,
[00:05:48.040]but we are here with a twofold mission.
[00:05:50.280]We're here to rescue, rehabilitate,
[00:05:51.990]and return to the wild native wildlife,
[00:05:54.080]and we're also here to educate people about wildlife
[00:05:57.160]and wild species in Nebraska in particular,
[00:05:59.410]but also across the Great Plains and across the globe,
[00:06:02.730]and to encourage people and give them solutions
[00:06:06.550]on how to live in harmony with wildlife,
[00:06:09.840]because there definitely is a way
[00:06:11.460]that we can live together with wildlife
[00:06:13.040]and not always put human interests first.
[00:06:17.240]In terms of our mission,
[00:06:19.030]the part of our mission that everybody knows us by
[00:06:21.400]is that we are the people
[00:06:23.110]who take the wildlife that they find
[00:06:24.790]that's orphaned injured or ill.
[00:06:27.130]And so each year our organization receives
[00:06:29.650]more than 7,000 wild animals from Nebraska
[00:06:32.770]that are in need of our help,
[00:06:34.650]and that's the part of our mission
[00:06:35.910]that most people know us for.
[00:06:40.010]We also handle more than 12,000 inquiries
[00:06:42.870]from the public every year,
[00:06:44.180]be that by telephone through our hotline,
[00:06:47.410]Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messenger,
[00:06:49.420]email, I don't know.
[00:06:50.300]It's a brave new world out there,
[00:06:51.500]and people contact us in all sorts of ways.
[00:06:54.920]We are the wildlife partner
[00:06:56.530]for the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha.
[00:07:00.240]And they traditionally have brought in
[00:07:02.500]more than half of our animals every year.
[00:07:04.440]They're a large facility that is contractually obligated
[00:07:09.120]to multiple municipalities in the Omaha Metro
[00:07:12.100]to take all of their animals, including their wildlife.
[00:07:14.750]So they often receive a large number of animals
[00:07:18.460]during Spring and Summer.
[00:07:19.320]Sometimes they get a hundred animals a day, wild animals,
[00:07:22.650]that they don't have the facilities
[00:07:24.000]or the expertise to care for,
[00:07:25.260]so those all come from us.
[00:07:27.320]In addition to that,
[00:07:28.153]we train their staff on how to safely handle wildlife.
[00:07:32.570]In addition to our permanent
[00:07:34.450]and our part-time and seasonal staff,
[00:07:36.540]we have over 80 volunteers who help us with our mission,
[00:07:39.410]and we actually just relaunched our Volunteer Program
[00:07:43.460]after a couple years dormant because of COVID.
[00:07:45.910]And so we expect that number to rise
[00:07:48.150]in the coming six to 12 months.
[00:07:52.090]It is a really common thing on this topic
[00:07:54.790]for people to say to me,
[00:07:57.100]who cares about that raccoon?
[00:07:59.450]There are many of them out there.
[00:08:01.780]Why in the world are you out there saving
[00:08:04.390]our boring native, urban wildlife?
[00:08:09.540]And so there's lots of answers to that question,
[00:08:12.610]and one of them is that we feel
[00:08:14.660]like it's the right thing to do.
[00:08:17.450]I don't know many people
[00:08:18.770]who could look into the eyes of an animal that was suffering
[00:08:21.090]and not try to find the best solution for that animal,
[00:08:23.930]whether it's domestic or wild.
[00:08:26.690]But it's important for us to let our community know
[00:08:30.960]that we are not here saving the rabbit
[00:08:33.590]out of the coyotes mouth, right?
[00:08:35.240]That's natural, that's normal,
[00:08:37.470]but we are here to balance the scales.
[00:08:40.590]So more than 90% of the wildlife
[00:08:42.670]that we receive every year comes to us
[00:08:45.050]because of human action.
[00:08:46.780]So, not all that action is intentional, right?
[00:08:49.650]So much of it is unintentional.
[00:08:53.050]If you've ever hit an animal with your car,
[00:08:54.560]it's a horrible feeling.
[00:08:55.950]So it's animals that were hit by car,
[00:08:58.530]animals that a lawn mower went over the nest of rabbits.
[00:09:01.900]Sometimes it's people thinking wildlife is orphaned
[00:09:05.030]when it really isn't and trying to save it,
[00:09:08.210]but they're not doing the right thing in that moment.
[00:09:11.140]And of course, there's the intentional stuff.
[00:09:13.330]There's animal cruelty that's perpetrated on wildlife,
[00:09:18.200]lots of shooting of wildlife,
[00:09:19.920]or trapping and injuring wildlife
[00:09:21.720]in ways that are intentional because people don't like it.
[00:09:24.560]And we are here to balance the scales of the human impact
[00:09:29.720]that we have on wildlife every day in our communities.
[00:09:33.720]In addition to that,
[00:09:35.260]when we perfect husbandry techniques and medical techniques,
[00:09:39.880]veterinary techniques on wildlife
[00:09:41.790]that maybe most people see as common,
[00:09:44.430]we can use that data to, number one,
[00:09:47.430]protect endangered species today across the globe
[00:09:51.000]that we're trying to create assurance colonies for,
[00:09:54.380]or hope that those animals don't tip over into extinction.
[00:09:57.940]But I also like to tell people that at one time,
[00:10:00.990]the passenger pigeon was very, very common, too, right?
[00:10:05.130]So we are one infectious disease
[00:10:09.210]or a whole climate change situation
[00:10:12.410]away from losing some of our common species as well.
[00:10:15.970]A for example of that is that there used to be a bat called
[00:10:19.390]the northern long-eared myotis
[00:10:20.780]that was super common in Nebraska
[00:10:23.120]and in other states as well,
[00:10:24.868]and that bat has now been affected by white-nose syndrome
[00:10:28.410]and so much so that we almost don't see it at all
[00:10:31.520]in our state anymore.
[00:10:32.840]It's listed as federally threatened,
[00:10:34.970]and it will tip over onto the endangered species list soon.
[00:10:38.520]And that was not something any of us would've foreseen
[00:10:41.900]in this past decade.
[00:10:44.710]And then of course
[00:10:45.690]we rehabilitate wildlife for public health.
[00:10:48.380]Wildlife naturally carries diseases and parasites
[00:10:51.620]that may not affect them, but that could affect us.
[00:10:54.280]And if people don't have an outlet for professional,
[00:10:57.370]safe wildlife rehabilitation in our communities,
[00:11:00.040]they may try to do it themselves and may expose themselves
[00:11:03.290]to these kind of natural diseases and parasites unwittingly
[00:11:07.120]and cause a problem.
[00:11:08.350]So we are here also to serve as a professional outlet
[00:11:13.090]to protect the public from the things
[00:11:15.590]that can arise when you're handling wildlife.
[00:11:21.130]And then you say, what is wildlife rehab really?
[00:11:23.650]And for me, of course,
[00:11:25.850]everybody knows the three Rs,
[00:11:27.320]which of course is Rescue, Rehabilitate
[00:11:29.478]and Release injured, orphaned and ill wildlife.
[00:11:33.924]But I think wildlife rehab
[00:11:35.660]has a lot to do with human psychology as well.
[00:11:38.340]It has to do with, like I said,
[00:11:40.770]more than 90% of the animals that we get come
[00:11:43.190]because of human action.
[00:11:44.870]So I don't have very much free time.
[00:11:48.250]I am not out there hiking through the woods
[00:11:50.100]looking for injured, orphaned and ill wildlife.
[00:11:53.010]The animals that come to us
[00:11:54.520]have a human being behind them,
[00:11:56.950]and human beings have a huge variety of motivations
[00:12:01.270]in what they do.
[00:12:02.470]And so if you're going to be a successful
[00:12:05.120]and professional wildlife rehabilitator,
[00:12:06.800]you really have to understand people as well,
[00:12:09.078]and meet them where they are,
[00:12:10.783]and if you're going to try to educate people
[00:12:12.810]about the right thing to do
[00:12:14.070]when they come into contact with wildlife,
[00:12:16.330]you need to have those skills.
[00:12:21.540]is also a lot of observation and data collection.
[00:12:25.590]So we are here not only to improve our profession,
[00:12:28.580]which is a relatively young profession, 50 years,
[00:12:31.550]1970 is about when wildlife have came up as a profession.
[00:12:36.820]We need to perfect what we're doing.
[00:12:38.440]We need to evolve
[00:12:39.520]with the evolving climate change and disease,
[00:12:44.120]infectious disease issues
[00:12:45.390]that are popping up all over the globe,
[00:12:47.540]and we need to collect that data
[00:12:49.470]and share it with our colleagues across the country
[00:12:51.390]and across the globe to ensure that we are improving
[00:12:54.000]our techniques and protecting both wildlife and the public.
[00:12:59.100]Right into that, we collaborate with our colleagues,
[00:13:02.220]we collaborate with other community groups
[00:13:04.190]to spread our education information and mission,
[00:13:09.060]and we want to contribute to our communities.
[00:13:13.170]You can say all you want about a animal people,
[00:13:14.823]that animal people not being good,
[00:13:16.410]human people or wanting
[00:13:18.530]to like bury themselves in the animals,
[00:13:20.620]in their rescue work
[00:13:21.580]and not pay attention to their communities,
[00:13:24.890]but our organization and our philosophy
[00:13:28.080]is that the more that we collaborate with other groups,
[00:13:30.990]whether they're youth groups or art groups
[00:13:33.510]or educational groups, we are reaching more people,
[00:13:37.110]which in the end will benefit our wildlife
[00:13:39.330]and our native ecosystems,
[00:13:40.750]so we will collaborate as much as we can.
[00:13:44.010]And every time we have an interaction with that person
[00:13:48.050]that's behind that animal,
[00:13:49.860]we have an opportunity to teach somebody
[00:13:52.540]about the natural behaviors
[00:13:53.860]and the natural history of our wildlife,
[00:13:55.910]and also to teach the relationship between human action
[00:13:59.810]and environmental or wildlife reaction,
[00:14:02.770]which is kind of the cornerstone of the education
[00:14:05.840]that we're trying to help people be a part of.
[00:14:12.550]In addition to our wildlife mission,
[00:14:14.710]our wildlife rehab mission,
[00:14:15.910]we are an education organization.
[00:14:19.178]Pre-COVID and hopefully getting,
[00:14:22.930]we're not post-COVID,
[00:14:23.900]but getting to that point now
[00:14:26.300]is each year we do more than 50
[00:14:29.530]kind of one-off public programs reaching
[00:14:31.430]more than 1,000 people in person
[00:14:34.550]about a variety of topics in wildlife.
[00:14:37.170]A lot that has to do with nuisance wildlife issues,
[00:14:39.660]or youth programs that are designed
[00:14:43.700]for whatever the kids are studying that day,
[00:14:45.330]whether it's bats, or native wildlife,
[00:14:48.350]or prairies or ecosystems, that way.
[00:14:51.100]We also participate and have for about a decade
[00:14:53.550]a program in Omaha called Collective for Youth,
[00:14:56.450]which provides after-school programming to at-risk students.
[00:15:00.380]And right now we work in eight middle schools
[00:15:03.040]and two elementary schools providing wildlife
[00:15:05.640]and human-impact education to those students.
[00:15:08.560]We have our own High School Science Academy
[00:15:10.710]which engages high school students in Omaha in field work
[00:15:15.190]and lab work ahead of their college careers
[00:15:18.160]to give them exposure to careers in conservation,
[00:15:20.497]because of course, we're trying
[00:15:22.040]to create conservation leaders for the future of Nebraska.
[00:15:25.990]We also have a University Internship Program,
[00:15:27.890]which we offer
[00:15:28.960]21 base-level university internships every summer,
[00:15:33.840]and we're really excited to continue that program.
[00:15:36.420]It's one of the best programs I think that we have.
[00:15:40.800]And then of course, I don't think people ask us too much,
[00:15:43.860]like they ask us, why are we rehabilitating raccoons?
[00:15:46.120]But they don't ask us too much why we wanna educate people.
[00:15:49.040]But I do think it's important to point out that
[00:15:52.010]when we bring unique perspectives,
[00:15:55.170]when we bring the wild animals perspective,
[00:15:57.560]or the environment's perspective to people,
[00:15:59.791]we do make the world better.
[00:16:01.620]And I think that's true.
[00:16:02.704]My chosen field is wildlife and the environment,
[00:16:05.350]but I think any sharing of perspectives across the board
[00:16:09.820]makes the world better.
[00:16:11.540]We're also working fostering curiosity and growth
[00:16:15.270]in our high school students and our college students.
[00:16:18.250]I've worked with so many students that when I ask,
[00:16:20.770]they're in our High School Science Academy Program,
[00:16:22.330]they're biology superstars.
[00:16:23.690]And I'll say to them,
[00:16:25.080]what do you wanna do when you go to college?
[00:16:27.160]And they say to me,
[00:16:27.993]well, I have to go into business
[00:16:30.040]because my family doesn't have any money,
[00:16:31.060]and it's the only way I can make money.
[00:16:33.940]But their passion lies in conservation,
[00:16:36.340]or their passion lies in wildlife.
[00:16:38.350]And I think that those students need an opportunity
[00:16:41.460]to see that you can survive,
[00:16:43.380]you can live and work in conservation
[00:16:45.890]and feel like you've made that difference.
[00:16:48.050]There's nothing wrong with business.
[00:16:49.370]I've worked in business,
[00:16:50.330]but I think I want to see our students know
[00:16:53.830]that their passions have a career outlet later on in life.
[00:16:59.990]And so, and in the end,
[00:17:02.100]I believe that if we educate people about wildlife,
[00:17:06.040]what to do when they find it, what not to do,
[00:17:08.860]that we save wildlife
[00:17:10.280]that we never even have to put our hands on,
[00:17:12.270]and that is a total win for the mission of our organization.
[00:17:18.283]We have a lot of partnerships.
[00:17:19.710]My philosophy on collaborating
[00:17:22.200]in our community and partnerships,
[00:17:25.150]is that if the partnership
[00:17:26.780]will meet our mission, even obliquely,
[00:17:29.963]and we can contribute to our community
[00:17:32.920]and we can figure out to fund it as a nonprofit,
[00:17:35.590]there's almost no partnership that I'll say no to,
[00:17:37.480]as long as we have the resources to do it.
[00:17:39.410]Because I think the more partnerships you have,
[00:17:41.800]the broader audience that you reach.
[00:17:45.180]So Nebraska Wildlife Rehab
[00:17:46.450]has been around for over 20 years.
[00:17:47.880]We celebrated 20 years in 2019.
[00:17:50.920]But this year has probably been the largest year of growth
[00:17:54.387]and impact for our organization.
[00:17:56.520]After several years in a long capital campaign,
[00:17:59.780]we have opened a brand new Wildlife Center
[00:18:01.900]and veterinary hospital in Omaha, which is our major center.
[00:18:05.960]We do provide services for wildlife rehab
[00:18:08.330]across the State of Nebraska,
[00:18:10.370]but Omaha, of course, with the largest population center
[00:18:13.080]is our largest service base
[00:18:15.230]with Lincoln being a close second.
[00:18:18.560]And so in November, at the end of November,
[00:18:20.320]we opened this Wildlife Center
[00:18:21.510]that we've been working on for years.
[00:18:24.220]So the Baldwin Wildlife Center
[00:18:25.560]and the Hubbard Family Wildlife Hospital
[00:18:28.870]is a brand new building that was open just in time
[00:18:33.000]for avian influenza to hit our state.
[00:18:35.910]But we have more than 15,000 square feet
[00:18:38.270]of rehabilitation space with 17 wildlife nurseries
[00:18:41.880]and a state of the art wildlife hospital.
[00:18:44.050]We were incredibly fortunate to have donors
[00:18:46.850]who said they wanted us to have
[00:18:48.010]the best equipped wildlife hospital in the country,
[00:18:50.720]and they did that for us.
[00:18:53.330]So we've built it and are working
[00:18:54.780]on hiring a veterinary staff
[00:18:56.090]to work full time out of our facility,
[00:18:57.610]which will change the face of how we treat our animals
[00:19:01.940]and what data we can collect
[00:19:04.270]and contribute back to our profession.
[00:19:07.810]And I'm thrilled to say that it's super disinfectable.
[00:19:10.420]It was designed that way.
[00:19:11.680]And if anybody's ever worked with animals
[00:19:13.280]you know that cleanliness is sometimes tough to achieve
[00:19:17.290]when you're working with wildlife.
[00:19:18.940]These pictures on the screen right now
[00:19:20.300]are just some pictures of our exam area.
[00:19:22.320]And we also got a really cool piece of equipment,
[00:19:24.930]which is a 3D CAT scan, veterinary CAT scan,
[00:19:29.700]which can image something small as a hummingbird,
[00:19:32.420]as large as a mountain lion.
[00:19:34.120]And not only will we use it for our animals,
[00:19:36.470]but we'll make it available to our partners
[00:19:38.220]at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Omaha Zoo
[00:19:41.800]and other veterinary clinics throughout Nebraska
[00:19:44.570]so that equipment is used.
[00:19:47.320]There's some fun pictures of just,
[00:19:50.100]I honestly think people come here we talk
[00:19:51.970]just so they can see really cute pictures of animals.
[00:19:53.730]So, here's some pictures of animals,
[00:19:55.460]or at least us doing stuff with animals.
[00:19:59.920]The cool thing about the Wildlife Center
[00:20:01.360]is that it facilitates advanced wildlife rehab
[00:20:03.520]more than we could have done in our smaller center before,
[00:20:06.520]or clearly at home roots,
[00:20:09.420]which is where we started 20 years ago.
[00:20:12.210]It will allow us to expand our educational programs
[00:20:14.980]into fourth-year veterinary rotations,
[00:20:19.520]and potentially in a few years,
[00:20:21.930]veterinary internships which are postgraduate programs
[00:20:25.210]in wildlife medicine.
[00:20:27.730]The other thing about the Wildlife Center is that we tried
[00:20:31.560]to be really technology forward with our facility.
[00:20:34.720]Our animals are really susceptible to stress,
[00:20:38.210]and humans are stressful for them,
[00:20:39.720]so we just can't give constant public tours.
[00:20:42.396]So we built in the technology between wireless access points
[00:20:46.020]and cameras in almost every room
[00:20:48.110]so that we can use that technology
[00:20:50.090]to share our work medically or on the rehab
[00:20:53.350]and husbandry side with students and people
[00:20:56.120]really all over the globe,
[00:20:57.750]and show them what we're doing here
[00:20:59.130]without being invasive or stress inducing to our animals.
[00:21:02.320]So we're pretty excited about that
[00:21:04.640]and what we'll be able to do in the coming year and years
[00:21:07.830]with that technology.
[00:21:09.820]We also have a small classroom,
[00:21:11.870]and kind of all these ancillary services
[00:21:13.900]that we hope make us among the best Wildlife Centers
[00:21:16.360]in the country moving forward.
[00:21:18.340]And of course, a lot of people will say,
[00:21:20.160]you did all that in Nebraska?
[00:21:21.290]And I say, Nebraska is the place to do all of this,
[00:21:24.500]because we have incredible donors,
[00:21:27.210]and incredible supporters,
[00:21:28.470]and Nebraska's really proud of what it contributes,
[00:21:32.230]and I think it was the perfect place to do this.
[00:21:37.750]More cute animal pictures.
[00:21:42.253]If you were here with me in the classroom,
[00:21:43.390]I'd make you tell me what species those were
[00:21:45.560]'cause I like to quiz people when I'm talking to them.
[00:21:49.190]So in 2020 and beyond,
[00:21:50.440]the organization is expanding,
[00:21:51.920]we're expanding our staff.
[00:21:53.010]We're hiring a veterinarian,
[00:21:55.390]and a veterinary technician.
[00:21:56.550]Right now we're working on that.
[00:21:58.330]And then my hope is that within the next year,
[00:21:59.910]we'll hire a full-time biologist,
[00:22:01.510]not only to oversee a lot of the medical collaborations
[00:22:06.420]and graduate student research that we help with,
[00:22:09.650]but also to start doing post-release studies
[00:22:11.920]to help increase our knowledge of how our animals are doing
[00:22:14.620]once they're released back into the wild.
[00:22:16.940]We're working on actually
[00:22:18.480]more than one educational film series and film project
[00:22:22.090]to share the work of wildlife rehab
[00:22:23.720]and information about our native species and ecosystems.
[00:22:27.780]We are working in Lincoln right now.
[00:22:29.610]We're collaborating with UNO, UNL
[00:22:31.287]and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
[00:22:33.090]and Lincoln High School students
[00:22:34.620]to do a statewide flying squirrel survey.
[00:22:38.230]We have joined the Nebraska's OneHealth Initiative
[00:22:41.650]for a couple of reasons.
[00:22:42.780]We are working on COVID monitoring and wildlife
[00:22:45.750]because we now know that some wildlife
[00:22:48.730]can carry COVID asymptomatic,
[00:22:50.500]and some can actually get sick and die from it.
[00:22:53.670]So we're doing that monitoring
[00:22:55.160]along with the OneHealth Initiative,
[00:22:56.888]as well as some research on tick-borne illnesses,
[00:23:00.810]collecting ticks from wildlife.
[00:23:03.720]We also in this crazy, crazy year of change,
[00:23:07.030]in December of 2021 we were given 20 acres and buildings
[00:23:14.130]in Lancaster County in Walton.
[00:23:17.250]So in the coming years,
[00:23:18.520]we will be expanding our facilities into Lancaster County.
[00:23:22.740]And we haven't publicly released a lot about that yet,
[00:23:25.520]'cause we are still working on our plan,
[00:23:27.670]but eventually all of our outdoor enclosures
[00:23:30.160]and pre-release facilities
[00:23:32.460]will be moved to Lancaster County.
[00:23:34.340]So we're super excited about that as well.
[00:23:37.540]Honestly, there's never a dull moment around here.
[00:23:41.010]So that's our organization in a really quick nutshell.
[00:23:46.680]But when I was looking,
[00:23:47.670]I was trying to decide what my topic was gonna be,
[00:23:50.470]or what I would want to engage with you guys about,
[00:23:54.050]and (sighs) my thoughts on Nebraska
[00:23:58.970]are different now than when I was a kid.
[00:24:01.010]I grew up in Nebraska.
[00:24:02.170]I lived here until I left for college.
[00:24:04.360]And then when I left, I was like, see ya,
[00:24:07.100]I'm never going back to Nebraska.
[00:24:08.700]There's nothing for me there.
[00:24:10.950]I lived in Northern Minnesota,
[00:24:12.150]and I lived in Wisconsin,
[00:24:14.180]and I did a lot of traveling.
[00:24:16.040]And when I eventually came back,
[00:24:18.080]I realized what an incredible place this state is.
[00:24:22.560]I don't think I left Omaha as a kid, right?
[00:24:24.710]I didn't go anywhere else in Nebraska.
[00:24:27.400]And our prairies, our Savannahs, our wetlands,
[00:24:30.660]everything that we, the Sandhills, the aquifer,
[00:24:34.040]everything about it is unique and diverse.
[00:24:37.280]And it hurts people who care about that
[00:24:41.680]to realize how much we've lost in the last 200 years.
[00:24:44.730]I mean Nebraska's not unique in that,
[00:24:46.280]the Great Plains are not unique in that.
[00:24:49.770]But given that we've lost
[00:24:54.100]more than a million acres of wetlands,
[00:24:55.790]and over 90% of our prairies,
[00:24:59.020]it's a tough pill to swallow.
[00:25:01.440]And so, as I was thinking,
[00:25:04.230]I was looking at what the Voices of the Plains mission was,
[00:25:07.070]and that was, it says,
[00:25:08.480]to amplify the voices of distinctive communities
[00:25:10.560]on the Great Plains whose perspectives
[00:25:12.800]have historically been marginalized,
[00:25:14.210]underrepresented, or misunderstood.
[00:25:16.120]And for me, I was like,
[00:25:17.120]well, I don't feel underrepresented,
[00:25:19.230]or misunderstood me personally, I'm good.
[00:25:21.240]My voice is fine.
[00:25:22.490]I get out there,
[00:25:24.220]but of course then I had to take that moment to go,
[00:25:26.930]it's not about you, Laura.
[00:25:32.010]What I thought about
[00:25:33.470]was that for the last century and a half or two centuries,
[00:25:37.400]the voice of our native ecosystems,
[00:25:39.320]and the voice of our wildlife
[00:25:40.750]and our plants and our water
[00:25:42.310]have totally been marginalized due to human interests.
[00:25:46.490]And those human interests could be fear,
[00:25:51.216]human progress, commercial interests.
[00:25:55.330]The voice of that emblematic bison
[00:25:57.980]that once roamed our state and the Great Plains,
[00:26:00.160]and entirely has been suppressed and all the apex predators
[00:26:04.280]that we've extricated,
[00:26:06.060]and we still fear are marginalized,
[00:26:09.230]and of course the voice of one of my favorites,
[00:26:12.620]which is one of our most important keystone mammal species,
[00:26:15.380]the black-tailed prairie dog is really seldom heard.
[00:26:21.720]And so I think when we advocate for the preservation
[00:26:26.220]of our native ecosystems
[00:26:27.247]and the protection of wildlife that belongs here,
[00:26:29.280]we are advocating for the Great Plains,
[00:26:32.050]and for our communities
[00:26:32.883]and the diversity that once lived here
[00:26:34.790]and the diversity that still kind of continues
[00:26:37.840]to eek outta living here, to some extent.
[00:26:40.210]And it's a diversity that could grow again
[00:26:42.960]if we were committed collectively to restoring it.
[00:26:49.560]So, wildlife rehabilitation is the way that I personally,
[00:26:52.610]and my team here have chosen to make a difference,
[00:26:56.730]to make an impact on wildlife of the Great Plains,
[00:27:00.330]and to reach people
[00:27:01.860]about the importance of wildlife in ecosystems.
[00:27:04.970]But I don't think it's the only way.
[00:27:07.560]Clearly it's not the only way.
[00:27:10.070]I think that the best thing that we can do as human beings
[00:27:13.710]that care about the Great Plains
[00:27:15.000]is to use whatever expertise we have and our passion
[00:27:19.090]to advocate for conservation, for restoration,
[00:27:21.780]for doing the right thing for our native wildlife
[00:27:23.620]and our native ecosystems.
[00:27:25.188]I think your expertise can be in field biology,
[00:27:28.090]or research biology, or photography, or videography,
[00:27:32.070]or poetry, or creative nonfiction,
[00:27:34.840]statistics, political advocacy,
[00:27:36.800]any of those things make just as big of an impact
[00:27:40.080]as rehabilitating wildlife or whatever you choose to do.
[00:27:45.598]I think we have to use our unique talents
[00:27:47.580]to effect change and to see a world that's different
[00:27:50.360]than the one that we have now,
[00:27:51.560]which is what we are working for.
[00:27:54.600]It's also important to remember that people in our society
[00:27:58.060]are going to be moved in different ways.
[00:28:00.340]So for some people, they want data,
[00:28:04.540]for other people they want a conversation and a handshake,
[00:28:07.680]and for others they wanna see it on social media, right?
[00:28:11.040]They wanna watch a movie about it.
[00:28:12.910]I think we have to work together
[00:28:16.130]and reach people through all of those avenues
[00:28:18.750]to collectively effect change.
[00:28:21.070]And it's something that I think about a lot
[00:28:23.540]in all of the things that I do every day
[00:28:29.030]when I'm thinking about talking to communities.
[00:28:33.130]And I love this picture of bison, Alex Wiles took it,
[00:28:35.790]and it's just fabulous.
[00:28:38.690]More cute animal pictures.
[00:28:41.414]Okay, that's all I have.
[00:28:43.020]Does anybody have questions,
[00:28:44.020]or topics they wanna talk about?
[00:28:48.840]Well, first of all, thank you so much, Laura.
[00:28:50.800]That was a fabulous presentation.
[00:28:52.770]I have a ton of questions myself,
[00:28:55.390]and I'll try to,
[00:28:57.080]yeah, ask as many of those.
[00:28:58.850]But I would also encourage anyone else
[00:29:01.560]who has questions as well to write them in the chat.
[00:29:05.890]We'll go ahead then and sort of weave
[00:29:08.130]your questions and my questions
[00:29:09.920]into sort of a free flow and natural conversation here.
[00:29:13.930]So, maybe I'll kick things off and then we can,
[00:29:17.690]yeah, we can go to some weird questions as well.
[00:29:20.620]One thing I was really interested in,
[00:29:23.620]you were talking about like sort of COVID monitoring
[00:29:26.550]and talking about like,
[00:29:28.750]yeah, I guess like how COVID
[00:29:29.990]has impacted like Nebraska wildlife specifically.
[00:29:32.770]I was wondering if you could maybe expand
[00:29:34.300]a little bit more on that.
[00:29:37.030]Given the type of Coronavirus that COVID is,
[00:29:39.990]when it first started spreading
[00:29:42.080]we knew that there were certain,
[00:29:44.040]due to veterinary epidemiology,
[00:29:45.640]that there were certain species
[00:29:46.780]that were likely going to be affected.
[00:29:48.760]And our thoughts were that they were gonna be
[00:29:50.770]the cats of all kinds, all Felids,
[00:29:53.890]and the Mustelids, so weasels,
[00:29:57.350]just because of the types of Coronaviruses
[00:29:59.370]they naturally carry that they susceptible.
[00:30:01.840]And we were proven right on that.
[00:30:03.810]So, you've all,
[00:30:05.350]like the Lincoln snow leopards, right?
[00:30:07.840]So these animals that were interfacing
[00:30:10.090]with humans that had COVID are the ones who have suffered.
[00:30:13.650]And then mink and mink farms,
[00:30:15.910]at least the mink are weasel,
[00:30:17.723]and mink farms across the world were affected
[00:30:20.540]and they spread COVID to wild populations.
[00:30:24.060]These are things that we kind of knew
[00:30:25.320]were gonna happen in old world bats,
[00:30:27.290]we didn't expect our new world bats
[00:30:29.070]in North America to get it.
[00:30:30.310]And at least the studies that have been done
[00:30:32.110]on a few species have proven that true
[00:30:33.950]that they're not carrying it.
[00:30:36.400]But there were things that we didn't expect.
[00:30:38.230]We didn't really expect white-tailed deer
[00:30:41.210]to asymptomatically carry COVID, but they are.
[00:30:45.300]And so it is now incumbent upon all of us
[00:30:48.350]who work with wildlife to figure out
[00:30:50.200]which species are carrying it,
[00:30:51.690]and which ones are going to be affected.
[00:30:54.820]Mink in North America are not an endangered species,
[00:30:57.460]but they die from it.
[00:30:58.950]And our bobcats could be horribly affected
[00:31:01.200]if we see something like white-tailed deer carrying it,
[00:31:04.990]and then bobcat's getting it from white-tailed deer, right?
[00:31:07.760]Or mountain lions.
[00:31:08.680]So what we're doing now is our current commitment,
[00:31:14.000]I'm feeling a little,
[00:31:15.330]it's a lot, but we're,
[00:31:16.330]I think we can manage it,
[00:31:17.660]is that we are going to sample every wild animal
[00:31:20.310]that comes through our doors for COVID.
[00:31:21.957]And all of those samples will go
[00:31:23.700]to the University of Nebraska Diagnostic Lab.
[00:31:29.250]And so what they're doing
[00:31:30.630]is part of a national monitoring of wildlife.
[00:31:33.504]And then I've learned to never be surprised.
[00:31:37.790]So I think that we'll find that more animals are carrying it
[00:31:41.560]than we than we know.
[00:31:44.260]Yeah, well, and yeah, and it just,
[00:31:46.280]it seems like something
[00:31:47.990]that has such massive implications that,
[00:31:50.320]amidst everything else going on in the pandemic
[00:31:52.370]I have not really devote a lot of thought to.
[00:31:54.680]So I thought that was, yeah,
[00:31:56.490]such an interesting point and so important to think about.
[00:32:02.020]Yeah, and another question too,
[00:32:03.650]I was surprised by how many patients
[00:32:08.000]you see annually as well,
[00:32:09.160]but also how many inquiries you get too, like with 12,000,
[00:32:13.191]one question I had was like,
[00:32:15.920]what are like sort of the most common questions
[00:32:18.530]you tend to sort of get?
[00:32:21.540]It's very seasonal.
[00:32:23.980]In the kinds of things that we get.
[00:32:25.280]But when we, I hate to call any wild animal a nuisance,
[00:32:29.340]but like we kind of collectively call them
[00:32:31.250]nuisance wildlife calls.
[00:32:32.960]So, in urban areas,
[00:32:35.520]the raccoons are getting into my house,
[00:32:37.310]or they're getting into my chimney,
[00:32:39.330]or the squirrels, or something's getting into my garbage,
[00:32:41.610]or something's digging in my garden.
[00:32:43.390]So there are a lot of those kind of wildlife conflict issues
[00:32:46.270]that we deal with.
[00:32:47.900]And then in the Spring, it's those things,
[00:32:52.640]but it also morphs into, there are rabbits in my yard,
[00:32:55.850]there are baby bunnies or whatever.
[00:32:59.290]Things like, all of those kinds of things.
[00:33:01.890]And we often get calls too about people just say,
[00:33:05.310]they say, I have an opossum in my yard, and it's,
[00:33:09.970]they're reporting it, they're looking for more information.
[00:33:12.330]I don't know.
[00:33:13.163]They don't really have a problem with it,
[00:33:14.220]but they wanna tell us about it.
[00:33:15.627]And I think those are like the perfect opportunities
[00:33:18.400]to tell people of what's natural behavior,
[00:33:21.470]and all of those things.
[00:33:22.470]So we kind of approach every phone call,
[00:33:25.370]no matter the demeanor of the caller
[00:33:27.020]as an opportunity to educate people
[00:33:29.020]about our native wildlife.
[00:33:30.810]Yeah, well, and that connects to something you said too,
[00:33:33.880]and something I was reading about on your website as well,
[00:33:37.030]of people sort of,
[00:33:39.640]with good intentions sort of intervening when there is,
[00:33:45.460]like they should absolutely not intervene at all.
[00:33:47.657]And like, I guess, yeah,
[00:33:51.252]what are like, sort of like,
[00:33:53.810]are there really common instances of that happening?
[00:33:56.020]And are there sort of common mistakes
[00:33:57.990]or like sort of like misconceptions
[00:33:59.480]that people have or make?
[00:34:00.780]Yeah, we have three ways,
[00:34:03.660]the most prominent three ways
[00:34:04.890]that people interfere when they shouldn't.
[00:34:07.240]One is picking up white-tailed deer fawns
[00:34:11.600]when they're young.
[00:34:12.810]So white-tailed deer,
[00:34:14.340]their fawns don't follow them around,
[00:34:16.220]they're not fast enough to escape predators.
[00:34:18.080]So what they do is they lay their fawns down in the grass
[00:34:20.610]and then they leave to eat,
[00:34:21.720]and they come back every few hours and nurse them.
[00:34:24.500]But human beings think
[00:34:26.000]that a baby alone is an orphan, right?
[00:34:29.530]Because we wouldn't leave our babies alone,
[00:34:31.100]but wildlife absolutely leaves their babies alone.
[00:34:33.880]And so they'll pick up these fawns,
[00:34:36.970]and that's a real challenge for us
[00:34:38.520]because if we catch them right away, we can put them back.
[00:34:41.800]But in Nebraska, it's illegal to rehabilitate deer.
[00:34:45.810]So if people keep them for several days,
[00:34:48.060]or they let them get dehydrated or something,
[00:34:50.460]that's actually a death sentence for that animal.
[00:34:53.000]And so it's really concerning to us,
[00:34:54.810]and it's one that we try to stay on top of,
[00:34:57.310]is to educate people about leaving fawns in the wild.
[00:35:00.810]The same thing happens with cottontail rabbits.
[00:35:02.810]They only come to their nest twice a day.
[00:35:04.980]And so people will be out gardening
[00:35:06.380]and they'll see that no mom has come all day long,
[00:35:08.540]and they think that those babies are orphaned.
[00:35:11.110]And then the last one in the Spring is fledgling birds.
[00:35:14.962]So once birds leave the nest,
[00:35:18.350]most birds species like passer and songbird species
[00:35:21.250]don't learn how to fly right when they come out of the nest,
[00:35:23.680]they have to spend a week or two on the ground
[00:35:26.200]to learn how to fly.
[00:35:27.610]And so people will see birds,
[00:35:29.750]baby birds on the ground with no mom,
[00:35:32.250]and they know they can't fly,
[00:35:34.160]so they think that they're injured or orphaned,
[00:35:36.410]and then they pick them up and they disturb
[00:35:38.670]that natural cycle of learning
[00:35:40.220]that is part of a bird's process.
[00:35:43.330]So, those are the times
[00:35:44.490]when people really intervene when they shouldn't, yeah.
[00:35:49.193]Yeah, and then, yeah,
[00:35:50.026]past that it causes complications for,
[00:35:52.320]yeah, what to do next.
[00:35:54.463]It also causes work for us, right?
[00:35:56.800]We are here for it,
[00:35:57.810]but we would,
[00:35:58.720]there's enough work to do without taking unnecessary cases.
[00:36:04.320]We have a few questions in the chat
[00:36:05.840]that I would love to get to.
[00:36:06.880]So, the first one's from Bailey.
[00:36:10.710]Bailey says, I wondered about how you make the decision
[00:36:14.050]about when and whether an individual
[00:36:15.670]can be re-released into the wild following rehabilitation.
[00:36:19.270]How is it determined when an individual
[00:36:21.290]is sufficiently recovered
[00:36:22.560]to have a high chance of survival in the wild?
[00:36:26.160]That's a big question, Bailey,
[00:36:28.440]and it's really specific.
[00:36:30.370]So every species is different, and it's based,
[00:36:34.790]what I always say to wildlife rehabilitators
[00:36:36.750]is it's not enough to love and animals,
[00:36:39.010]and to be able to put a bottle in an animal's mouth.
[00:36:41.750]You have to really understand
[00:36:43.130]the natural history of the species,
[00:36:45.410]their normal behaviors, their skills,
[00:36:47.560]because if you don't know what's normal,
[00:36:49.140]you're not gonna know what's abnormal.
[00:36:51.310]And you have to be really committed
[00:36:52.950]to not overhabituating wildlife.
[00:36:56.560]People like to snuggle things,
[00:36:58.160]and that's not something that's allowed around here.
[00:37:01.690]So, it depends on the animal,
[00:37:03.710]but of course we have benchmarks for our animals
[00:37:06.510]in terms of age, weight conditions,
[00:37:08.550]sometimes laboratory results,
[00:37:10.690]behavioral results, muscle conditioning.
[00:37:14.350]So we have all of those things that we put together,
[00:37:16.710]and then we try to pick our release sites
[00:37:18.750]and our release protocols that fit
[00:37:21.270]the behavior of that species
[00:37:22.740]to increase their success rates.
[00:37:24.860]Now, we have done a few post-release studies here,
[00:37:27.920]but we long haven't had the resources to do them.
[00:37:30.960]So we kind of rely on like the post-release studies
[00:37:34.160]that other people in other states have been able to do.
[00:37:37.000]But that's one of our kind of nearer term goal
[00:37:39.870]is to do more of those ourselves
[00:37:41.650]in terms of GPS and radio collaring,
[00:37:44.758]and recapture studies
[00:37:46.870]to see how our animals are doing as well.
[00:37:52.710]Thank you, Bailey.
[00:37:53.770]Our next question comes from Jacqueline Spodolski.
[00:37:58.680]I know there are a lot of feral cats here in Lincoln,
[00:38:01.490]do you only work with domesticate animals,
[00:38:03.133]such as cats or farm animals?
[00:38:06.550]We try not to.
[00:38:08.920]We have a big workload already
[00:38:11.880]in a specialist kind of condition.
[00:38:15.070]There aren't very many permitted wildlife rehabilitators
[00:38:16.850]in the State of Nebraska.
[00:38:20.450]That being said, at the beginning of the thing,
[00:38:24.410]when I was waiting for everybody to come online,
[00:38:26.333]kept looking over at the guinea pigs I have
[00:38:28.480]in the corner of my office right now.
[00:38:31.940]They were making noise, I don't know.
[00:38:33.910]So we try not to.
[00:38:35.570]In our person lives I think all of us engage
[00:38:37.570]in some type of animal rescue.
[00:38:39.170]I definitely used to do stuff with cats particularly.
[00:38:44.180]It is still, some of the local rescue groups know
[00:38:46.260]that we have some medical skills
[00:38:47.940]that your average foster might not have
[00:38:50.300]like two feeding kittens.
[00:38:52.320]And we'll accept those if we can handle it.
[00:38:55.810]But for the most part,
[00:38:56.800]there's a lot of really quality
[00:38:58.770]dedicated domestic animal rescues,
[00:39:01.320]and we let them do their work and we do ours.
[00:39:06.011]But we have the animal skills we'll use them
[00:39:08.520]when we have the resources to do so.
[00:39:11.750]And if somebody wants to start
[00:39:12.940]a really quality farm animal rescue Nebraska, we need one.
[00:39:17.260]I keep saying that's gonna be my retirement project,
[00:39:19.370]but it's always a way.
[00:39:22.740]Well, that sounds great, yeah.
[00:39:25.320]Well, maybe I can-
[00:39:26.153]Maybe you wanna start one, I'm in,
[00:39:27.590]I'll be a board member.
[00:39:31.820]Our next question is from Catherine.
[00:39:36.130]How do you advise people to approach
[00:39:38.210]or not potential cases of disease or disease mortality,
[00:39:42.300]like with the recent avian flu outbreak?
[00:39:47.040]Yeah, I think the first step that we have to take
[00:39:49.180]is to make sure that our staff
[00:39:50.630]and anybody answering our phones is educated
[00:39:53.233]about what is happening.
[00:39:54.850]So about established disease, emerging disease,
[00:39:58.130]and where it might pop up and it's danger to people.
[00:40:02.360]That being said,
[00:40:04.040]we do sometimes direct people to capture animals
[00:40:07.100]that need to come into us after we've evaluated that.
[00:40:10.327]But we always advise the correct PPE for that.
[00:40:16.270]With avian influenza specifically,
[00:40:19.300]it was not an unexpected thing,
[00:40:20.900]we were watching it,
[00:40:22.420]we watched it's arrival on the East Coast
[00:40:24.300]and we knew it was coming,
[00:40:25.133]and we have experience from previous outbreaks.
[00:40:27.800]This one has been a bit surprising,
[00:40:32.780]normally waterfowl or asymptomatic carriers
[00:40:35.650]of avian influenza,
[00:40:37.030]and snow geese are dropping like flies
[00:40:39.170]all along the Central Flyway,
[00:40:41.260]and they're coming up with avian influenza
[00:40:43.580]and they're dying from it.
[00:40:46.030]So right now, what we tell people
[00:40:48.000]is if you're going to approach a dead waterfowl,
[00:40:50.650]or ones that are ill,
[00:40:53.360]that they need to wear N95 or KN95 mask,
[00:40:56.560]and they need to wear gloves,
[00:40:58.110]and we try to inform them about appropriate disinfection.
[00:41:01.300]But I think that,
[00:41:05.200]yeah, so for me it's important that our staff
[00:41:06.930]is able to do that,
[00:41:07.900]and they know that it's their responsibility to do that
[00:41:10.940]when they're dealing with the public.
[00:41:12.880]But we try to do a little bit of that
[00:41:15.110]with every wild animal interaction,
[00:41:16.850]because you never know what's out there too.
[00:41:20.350]There's that aspect of it too.
[00:41:23.640]And then, thank you.
[00:41:24.490]And if I could just ask a quick follow up,
[00:41:25.900]does avian flu,
[00:41:26.733]does that only impact waterfowl,
[00:41:29.140]or is it just all birds in general?
[00:41:31.981]So, it's interesting because each,
[00:41:33.160]so there are low pathogenic avian influenzas
[00:41:36.430]and there's high,
[00:41:37.263]and there's different strains of each,
[00:41:38.870]and they kind of affect things differently,
[00:41:40.220]but so waterfowl and wading birds
[00:41:43.110]tend to be asymptomatic carriers of AI, of avian influenzas.
[00:41:49.180]But clearly that's not always the case.
[00:41:51.470]And then what we is when it gets into Galliformes,
[00:41:54.710]so turkeys and quail and pheasants,
[00:41:56.720]and then our domestic chickens and our domestic turkeys,
[00:41:59.600]that's where it causes widespread outbreaks.
[00:42:03.020]In addition to that,
[00:42:04.410]if waterfowl infected with avian influenza
[00:42:07.610]are scavenged by other birds,
[00:42:10.140]those birds can also be affected.
[00:42:12.119]One of the birds that got hit really hard
[00:42:14.590]when HPI hit Nebraska were bald eagle,
[00:42:18.110]because they are scavengers
[00:42:19.490]and they were eating the dead snow geese,
[00:42:21.760]and then they were coming up neurologic and ill.
[00:42:24.820]And so that's a huge deal.
[00:42:27.560]It's also, worldwide there's been some studies of AI
[00:42:32.750]in small songbirds,
[00:42:33.870]and there are a few that get it and die.
[00:42:35.530]But for the most part,
[00:42:36.840]it appears that our songbirds are likely just carriers.
[00:42:41.270]So there are a lot of avian carriers,
[00:42:43.210]and there are some that are susceptible to death.
[00:42:45.710]But of course, as human beings,
[00:42:48.470]we pay attention to these avian influenzas primarily
[00:42:51.260]because they threaten our commercial interests,
[00:42:53.970]our turkeys and our chickens that are in commercial flocks.
[00:42:57.397]People with backyard flocks
[00:42:58.950]should be very concerned right now.
[00:43:00.300]Like our recommendation is for backyard flocks
[00:43:02.240]is to bring them inside if you can.
[00:43:05.170]And then the human impact is a little less,
[00:43:09.830]or a little less known.
[00:43:12.090]Some avian influenzas have jumped to humans traditionally,
[00:43:16.470]but mostly people who are working
[00:43:17.860]in really close contact with large flocks.
[00:43:20.300]And then there is some influenza jumping from swine,
[00:43:23.700]from avian to swine, to humans.
[00:43:25.520]So there's a lot of complexities to it.
[00:43:28.920]So, generally we say for the layperson,
[00:43:31.260]they should just not handle dead animals,
[00:43:33.800]dead birds and stuff like that.
[00:43:37.137]And HPI, what we're seeing right now is an emerging issue,
[00:43:41.020]and new details are coming out every week
[00:43:43.310]and we just have to stay on top of those.
[00:43:48.920]Then our next question comes from Margaret.
[00:43:52.680]How can students apply for your internships?
[00:43:57.290]Our internship applications open
[00:43:58.840]from November through February of every year.
[00:44:01.640]And they just go to our website,
[00:44:02.990]under our Education tab
[00:44:04.070]there's a page on University Internships.
[00:44:06.770]And then we select our interns in March
[00:44:09.500]and they do a 12-week program in the Summer.
[00:44:12.780]With the new building,
[00:44:13.680]we will probably start offering Spring and Fall internships,
[00:44:16.100]but that's not something that we've traditionally done,
[00:44:18.270]but hopefully in the future
[00:44:19.330]we can offer an eight-week internship
[00:44:21.710]in those seasons as well.
[00:44:25.250]A short follow up is, are those paid internships, or?
[00:44:29.090]Our level one internships are not paid.
[00:44:33.070]It's something I actually would like to work on
[00:44:35.910]and get better stipends for that,
[00:44:37.330]because they do work hard
[00:44:39.150]and I understand economic needs of students.
[00:44:42.090]We do offer level two internships that are paid,
[00:44:45.910]and also we have some housing available as well.
[00:44:48.967]And so those students come in in their second year,
[00:44:51.890]and we try to encourage our former interns to do that
[00:44:54.670]so that we're keeping those paid positions in Nebraska,
[00:44:57.740]although we do get national applicants
[00:44:59.730]for those positions as well.
[00:45:09.400]Yeah, so I have a question,
[00:45:11.010]and I've wanted to ask this since the beginning
[00:45:13.140]of this entire discussion,
[00:45:14.240]but, yeah, we've arrived here.
[00:45:16.137]So you mentioned in your presentation your fondness
[00:45:19.730]for the black-tailed prairie dog,
[00:45:22.322]do you have like a favorite animal,
[00:45:24.390]or any particular animals that you love to work with,
[00:45:27.130]or like make you really excited?
[00:45:29.110]Well, my favorite animal to rehabilitate
[00:45:30.950]is the American badger.
[00:45:34.060]They are sassy, and irrationally aggressive and adorable.
[00:45:41.440]I shouldn't say that about wildlife,
[00:45:42.480]I'm supposed to remain really objective about them,
[00:45:44.300]but I like all those little squat-digging animals.
[00:45:47.410]So badgers fit into that,
[00:45:49.640]woodchucks fit into that,
[00:45:50.940]and prairie dogs definitely do.
[00:45:52.370]But for me, prairie dogs are like the heart and soul
[00:45:56.550]of the Great Plains.
[00:45:58.280]And we live in a state where
[00:46:01.030]not only is there unregulated extermination of prairie dogs,
[00:46:05.240]but there are cases where our laws
[00:46:09.017]allows counties to tell private landowners
[00:46:13.130]that they have to pay for prairie dog extermination.
[00:46:17.660]So, we have this law that is extremely prejudicial
[00:46:21.630]to our most important keystone species
[00:46:23.550]and other states do too, it's not just Nebraska.
[00:46:27.180]But it's tragic to me
[00:46:30.100]because they really are what may,
[00:46:32.590]one of the cornerstones of our ecosystems
[00:46:34.840]on the Great Plains and all of the 150 different species
[00:46:38.410]they support in a healthy colony.
[00:46:40.660]So, yeah, I love those guys.
[00:46:42.440]But, yeah, American badgers, I can't help it,
[00:46:44.290]they're just awesome.
[00:46:46.840]Well, yeah, oh man.
[00:46:47.820]What a great pick.
[00:46:51.450]Well, and following up on that too,
[00:46:53.350]I guess like at the moment,
[00:46:56.210]or maybe over the last couple years,
[00:46:58.310]are there any sort of laws or like sort of,
[00:47:03.770]like legislation that we should maybe
[00:47:05.730]have our sort of attention towards with again,
[00:47:09.350]all these issues in mind?
[00:47:11.810]Yeah, there's nothing up about prairie dogs
[00:47:13.900]specifically about right now.
[00:47:15.740]Ernie Chambers is out of the Legislature right now,
[00:47:18.270]but he was definitely a proponent of changing those laws.
[00:47:22.610]You go on to,
[00:47:24.840]I don't know that I have to be,
[00:47:26.150]I'm a very collaborative person,
[00:47:28.710]and I have no problem working with farmers,
[00:47:31.440]ranchers, hunters, et cetera, right?
[00:47:33.980]We don't all agree on everything,
[00:47:35.910]but we definitely have common ground.
[00:47:38.856]And I don't have to be careful, they know me,
[00:47:41.910]but I have a great working relationship
[00:47:43.700]with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
[00:47:45.260]and their law enforcement side and their biologists side,
[00:47:48.730]but they also know that we don't always agree.
[00:47:51.040]I think we need to pay attention to mountain lions,
[00:47:58.240]and what kinds of quotas
[00:48:00.300]are left on our mountain lion hunting?
[00:48:02.840]We don't have a huge population.
[00:48:04.780]That is, the hunting seasons on mountain lions
[00:48:07.950]are definitely pressure from non-biologic interests,
[00:48:11.380]what we have there right now.
[00:48:13.320]We also spent a lot of money in the '80s
[00:48:16.660]to reintroduce river otters back into our state,
[00:48:19.990]and we've just opened a trapping season on them.
[00:48:23.400]I didn't agree with the opening of the trapping season,
[00:48:25.560]I didn't think the numbers supported it,
[00:48:27.620]the State biologists did.
[00:48:29.570]I think we need to pay attention
[00:48:31.180]to what happens to our population numbers
[00:48:33.470]of some of those key species
[00:48:35.150]that are corners to our ecosystems.
[00:48:38.670]We need to pay attention to those and see what happens.
[00:48:42.590]In California and Oregon,
[00:48:44.430]you've seen Legislation pass that have limited
[00:48:49.150]or excluded people from having shooting competitions
[00:48:52.520]for predators, specifically coyotes.
[00:48:57.040]They're usually called killing contests,
[00:48:58.920]well, they're called killing contests,
[00:49:00.290]but people they don't like them,
[00:49:02.040]but they're hunting programs that people will go out
[00:49:05.590]and kill as many predators as they can over the weekend,
[00:49:07.920]and then with something like a gun or something like that,
[00:49:11.760]it's a hunting thing.
[00:49:14.750]I think we need to pay attention to our predators,
[00:49:19.660]our apex predators
[00:49:20.870]and the animals that help keep ecosystems healthy.
[00:49:23.680]And maybe eventually legislation will be introduced,
[00:49:28.110]or maybe we need to push for legislation
[00:49:29.660]to be introduced to protect them.
[00:49:34.630]I don't have a problem with game parks doing what they do
[00:49:37.610]and making the policies that they do
[00:49:38.970]given the pressures that they have
[00:49:41.850]in terms of political climate and lobby
[00:49:45.290]and things in Nebraska,
[00:49:46.870]but I think as conservationists and environmentalists,
[00:49:49.120]we need to protect those things in our state,
[00:49:51.800]and they don't have very many protections here.
[00:49:55.940]That being said,
[00:49:57.042]people will say to me,
[00:49:59.090]your work would be better received.
[00:50:01.010]I don't think we're poorly received here,
[00:50:02.390]I think Nebraska's great,
[00:50:03.270]but would be better received in California,
[00:50:05.730]in Oregon, in one of those places
[00:50:08.221]that's maybe more liberally conservation-minded, I guess,
[00:50:13.950]is what they are.
[00:50:15.430]I don't think Nebraska's not conservation-minded,
[00:50:18.560]but I think that there's a lot of outreach
[00:50:23.430]that needs to be done here in Nebraska.
[00:50:25.120]And I think that the more people who can bring real science
[00:50:28.430]and real data into the conversation,
[00:50:31.000]emotions aren't gonna work in Nebraska
[00:50:33.410]when it comes to conserving wildlife.
[00:50:35.910]You need to bring the data,
[00:50:37.080]you need to bring facts to the discussion.
[00:50:40.670]And then I believe
[00:50:41.890]that almost every party in Nebraska will listen
[00:50:45.400]when you bring facts.
[00:50:47.087]No matter who they are,
[00:50:50.190]liberal, conservative, rancher, farmer.
[00:50:53.430]I've never had anybody unwilling
[00:50:54.870]to have a conversation with me.
[00:50:57.000]Doesn't mean they agree with me,
[00:50:58.030]but they're always willing to have the conversation, yeah.
[00:51:02.670]Yeah, well, and I guess going along with that,
[00:51:08.370]you're talking a little bit about in your presentation
[00:51:11.790]about like kind of collaborating
[00:51:14.310]with other groups doing similar work,
[00:51:16.940]collaborating with like for example, like veterinarians
[00:51:21.320]or like sort of groups working with domestic animals.
[00:51:25.840]I guess, like what are sort of the differences,
[00:51:30.960]like bigger differences or maybe specific differences
[00:51:33.490]between like working with like wildlife
[00:51:36.100]and like working with sort of like domestic animals
[00:51:40.270]in terms of like care and all those things,
[00:51:42.790]or even just like logistical concerns and more generally?
[00:51:45.720]Yeah, I mean, I kind of think the ground rules
[00:51:48.370]are kind kind of the same.
[00:51:49.203]You've got a nonprofit,
[00:51:50.140]you've got rescue going on.
[00:51:52.700]The major difference I think for people
[00:51:55.160]when deciding whether to do this work or that work,
[00:51:58.240]is that when you rescue domestic animals,
[00:52:02.750]number one, financial resources,
[00:52:04.720]although there's so many rescues
[00:52:06.560]that have to split those financial resources
[00:52:08.360]that they feel more stretched,
[00:52:10.330]but people are more willing to say,
[00:52:12.860]oh, that poor dog, here's $4,000 to fix it,
[00:52:16.820]and in addition to that,
[00:52:18.473]than they are for a raccoon, or whatever,
[00:52:20.970]but in addition to that,
[00:52:22.420]if you have a dog that needs a leg amputation,
[00:52:24.840]you amputate it and you get on with things,
[00:52:27.440]maybe they're even more adoptable
[00:52:28.810]because somebody wants to adopt the three-legged dog.
[00:52:31.710]We have to make really hard choices in wildlife rehab.
[00:52:36.470]We care about every animal that comes through the door,
[00:52:38.650]but if their prognosis says
[00:52:40.131]they will not be intact and returned to the wild,
[00:52:43.900]they have to be euthanized at the outset, right?
[00:52:47.230]And then even if there is something that we could fix,
[00:52:51.520]if we had enough resources,
[00:52:53.570]sometimes the behavior of the species won't tolerate the fix
[00:52:58.400]because wild animals see us as predators,
[00:53:00.420]and if they have to be in care
[00:53:01.690]for six months or seven months,
[00:53:03.850]or if you're a raccoon and you have a leg pin,
[00:53:06.500]you're gonna chew it out,
[00:53:09.670]we make those decisions.
[00:53:10.930]So I think for me, the major decision is for our people,
[00:53:15.670]volunteers, and staff,
[00:53:17.680]to understand that not everyone is saveable,
[00:53:22.360]and that not everyone is the best use of our resources,
[00:53:25.800]and it's easier to rally people around a dog or a cat
[00:53:28.470]that's gonna have a forever home
[00:53:29.810]and a good kind of assured long life, right?
[00:53:32.270]So that's the one we talk about the most
[00:53:35.097]and try to make sure that everybody stays mentally balanced
[00:53:39.200]in order to deal with the number of animals
[00:53:41.220]that we deal with every year.
[00:53:42.840]Yeah, 'cause, yeah, as you say,
[00:53:44.380]some of those choices must just be devastatingly
[00:53:46.720]sort of difficult to make, yeah.
[00:53:49.133]And I've been doing this for 20 years.
[00:53:50.210]I think sometimes the hardest thing is we decide to try,
[00:53:54.420]like, okay, this could have a good outcome,
[00:53:56.730]and then everybody's taking care of that animal
[00:53:58.860]for a month or whatever,
[00:53:59.850]and then we realize that it just took a turn
[00:54:01.830]that it's not gonna be a releasable animal.
[00:54:04.640]And a lot of people will say to us,
[00:54:06.020]why don't you put that animal in sanctuary?
[00:54:07.650]Well, there aren't that many sanctuaries.
[00:54:09.570]And sanctuaries want lions and tigers,
[00:54:11.320]they don't want raccoons or coyotes.
[00:54:14.190]There's not enough places for every injured wild animal.
[00:54:17.520]And quite frankly,
[00:54:18.610]a lot of those animals wouldn't tolerate sanctuary.
[00:54:20.780]They're wild and they're in a compromised position,
[00:54:23.950]and it's not really humane to keep them going
[00:54:26.550]when they can't return to that life again.
[00:54:28.340]So, it's definitely a different mindset
[00:54:30.900]in a lot of ways than domestic animal rescue for sure.
[00:54:35.870]Well, actually kind of related to this,
[00:54:39.458]we have another question from Catherine.
[00:54:42.920]Is there a most commonly maligned species,
[00:54:46.210]and what have you found to be successful
[00:54:48.130]in changing those perspectives?
[00:54:51.580]Ooh, it really,
[00:54:53.710]I mean, I think on a broad strokes,
[00:54:56.210]people will be like,
[00:54:57.160]African animals are cool,
[00:54:58.740]and Nebraska animals are lame, right?
[00:55:01.100]But then I have people who come from Europe and Africa
[00:55:04.670]and all they want to do is see raccoons
[00:55:06.420]because they see raccoons in cartoons or something,
[00:55:08.750]and they're like, what are those?
[00:55:10.247]They're so cool.
[00:55:11.080]And we all wanna see lions or whatever.
[00:55:13.130]But in Nebraska, I would say,
[00:55:16.290]and actually nationwide,
[00:55:17.610]the most ion species that I would talk about is the coyote.
[00:55:23.210]And some people will never come around to the coyote.
[00:55:26.670]They are buried in myth
[00:55:31.580]that perpetuated predator bounties
[00:55:34.800]at the turn of the century.
[00:55:37.240]But one of the ways I reach people
[00:55:39.370]or at least start to change their minds
[00:55:41.060]has to do with some science
[00:55:42.430]that's been done in the last decade or so.
[00:55:45.160]And it's based on the premise that coyotes,
[00:55:48.840]we had all these predator bounties in North America,
[00:55:51.690]and we used to have grizzly bears
[00:55:54.180]and gray wolves in Nebraska, and black bears,
[00:55:57.370]and part of those predator bounties got rid
[00:55:59.260]of all of those animals here and in many other States.
[00:56:02.560]But who never went away?
[00:56:05.610]That was the Wiley coyote.
[00:56:08.100]And science has shown us a couple of things about that.
[00:56:11.850]When you go and you kill off a bunch of wolves,
[00:56:14.100]they have a hard time reorganizing themselves
[00:56:16.390]in their pack structure and breeding and getting back,
[00:56:19.330]and so they tend to shrink away.
[00:56:21.530]Coyotes have some really cool adaptations.
[00:56:25.090]So when we go in like in a killing contest
[00:56:27.880]or a predator bounty and wipe out
[00:56:29.620]a bunch of coyotes in a population,
[00:56:32.800]two things happen.
[00:56:34.730]One, normally not every female in a,
[00:56:37.400]they don't pack,
[00:56:38.233]but not every female in a territory will breed.
[00:56:40.940]And when a huge population decline happens,
[00:56:43.700]the next season, every female will come into estrus.
[00:56:47.340]And every female that has a litter
[00:56:49.050]will have a statistically larger litter.
[00:56:51.750]So they all of a sudden replace
[00:56:53.410]their numbers really, really fast.
[00:56:55.600]And now there are studies being done on,
[00:56:57.170]what are the hormonal changes in coyotes
[00:56:59.370]that allow them to do that?
[00:57:02.020]But I find that amazing and fascinating and resilient.
[00:57:06.720]And so if I can get a person to talk to me about that,
[00:57:10.683]then I think it shows them a different side of an animal,
[00:57:13.820]and maybe at least peaks their curiosity
[00:57:15.840]as to why they're so unique.
[00:57:17.600]I also think coyotes are just like,
[00:57:19.840]not only do they act like dogs,
[00:57:21.610]and if you love dogs, you should love coyotes,
[00:57:23.700]they also are actually the biggest chickens
[00:57:26.070]that I deal with.
[00:57:27.170]I will tell you a million times a day,
[00:57:29.510]I'd rather wrestle an awake adult coyote to the ground
[00:57:33.840]than a eight pound raccoon, any day of the, right?
[00:57:39.127]Like coyotes are chickens.
[00:57:40.660]They just, they let you do it.
[00:57:42.830]And I think people have this view of them
[00:57:45.450]as vicious and cruel,
[00:57:47.220]and they're none of those things,
[00:57:48.770]they're just amazing animals, yeah.
[00:57:51.859]On the same sort of topic Margaret's in the chat,
[00:57:55.440]my Australian friends think squirrels are amazing.
[00:58:00.450]I mean, they're.
[00:58:01.283]There's a lot of them,
[00:58:02.116]but they are, they're amazing.
[00:58:05.758]And then Katie said,
[00:58:07.450]we had a visitor from Botswana at the Center
[00:58:09.430]and he was so excited to see a Cardinal.
[00:58:10.990]Oh, I'm also excited every time I see a Cardinal, so.
[00:58:13.801](Laura and Paul laughing)
[00:58:15.190]As opposed to me,
[00:58:16.023]when every time a Cardinal comes into the Wildlife Center,
[00:58:18.070]I'm like, ugh, they bite really hard.
[00:58:22.430]Those beaks are premium people finger biters,
[00:58:26.080]and it drives me,
[00:58:27.450]every time I see one,
[00:58:28.340]I just have to like square my shoulders and be like,
[00:58:30.900]okay, I'm ready.
[00:58:31.980]I'm ready to get bit today, so, yeah.
[00:58:33.830]Yes, they're red with the blood
[00:58:35.410]of the poor wildlife rehab.
[00:58:39.460]That's exactly true.
[00:58:43.840]We have another question and from, Penny.
[00:58:48.300]Are you ever test to rehab or place wild horses or a burros?
[00:58:53.940]You know what?
[00:58:54.773]We never have been here probably
[00:58:56.620]'cause we don't have wild mustang populations in Nebraska.
[00:59:00.540]The only thing that I have ever done with mustang
[00:59:03.080]other than I used to have real mustang,
[00:59:05.260]but several, 2010,
[00:59:09.500]I don't know if any of you ever caught wind of this,
[00:59:11.840]but we had a mustang hoarder out near Alliance,
[00:59:16.810]a dude who had 200 and some mustangs.
[00:59:19.960]He fancied himself a mustang rescue,
[00:59:21.990]and so he would take people's BLM mustangs
[00:59:24.130]that they had adopted off the range,
[00:59:26.150]and he starved them one winter in 2010,
[00:59:30.510]and so there was a huge rescue operation put into place
[00:59:34.090]when it was found out.
[00:59:35.470]And I went out for two weeks
[00:59:36.720]and did mustang rescue for two weeks.
[00:59:38.640]So that's about the most I've ever done.
[00:59:40.310]But unfortunately for him,
[00:59:42.700]unfortunately for everybody who cares about wild horses,
[00:59:46.623]BLM mustangs, even when they're adopted,
[00:59:49.220]Bureau of Land Management mustangs,
[00:59:50.550]even when they're adopted
[00:59:51.610]remain the property of the United States Government,
[00:59:54.210]you're basically borrowing them,
[00:59:55.730]you're paying to borrow them.
[00:59:57.280]And so that man was charged federally
[01:00:00.940]with destruction to federal property,
[01:00:02.960]and he spent time in Leavenworth.
[01:00:04.180]So for those of us who really advocated for those mustangs,
[01:00:08.630]we were happy about that.
[01:00:09.463]It's not always the outcome we get for animals of any kind.
[01:00:15.020]Well, and I guess with that in mind,
[01:00:18.060]another question that I had,
[01:00:19.590]and we were touching on a couple of these, but,
[01:00:23.650]do you have, and I'm sure you could pull in a bunch,
[01:00:26.620]but do you have any favorite
[01:00:28.550]or multiple sort of favorite rehabilitation stories
[01:00:33.890]that like come to mind,
[01:00:35.100]or like experiences that really stand out?
[01:00:37.410]You probably have like a million of them, but.
[01:00:40.050]Yeah, I never remember them
[01:00:41.190]when people ask me that on the spot though.
[01:00:43.260]It always come up
[01:00:44.093]when I'm like teaching a class or something.
[01:00:47.340]I don't know,
[01:00:48.173]we had a pretty funny thing happen this winter,
[01:00:50.040]and we were taking bets around here about it,
[01:00:51.640]but a woman called and said,
[01:00:52.870]in the middle of the winter and she said,
[01:00:54.400]I just bought this house
[01:00:55.233]and there's a huge snake on my window, so, outside.
[01:00:59.670]And we were like, alive, dead?
[01:01:02.120]And she's like, well, I think it's dead,
[01:01:03.300]but it's huge, it can't be a native snake.
[01:01:05.590]And so then we said, send us a picture.
[01:01:06.980]And she send us this as like blurry picture.
[01:01:10.010]And so we were all taking bets around here,
[01:01:11.620]we were like,
[01:01:15.910]it's rubber snake,
[01:01:17.330]it's somebody's pet snake that got out or whatever.
[01:01:20.170]And then we tried to get her
[01:01:21.070]to bring it in and she wouldn't.
[01:01:22.130]So we're like, well then get your dad or your neighbor,
[01:01:24.520]or somebody to like collect it.
[01:01:26.037]And of course he brought it in in a box
[01:01:28.660]'cause they wanted to ID it,
[01:01:30.060]and he put it on the counter,
[01:01:31.330]and he was sitting there filling out our intake paperwork,
[01:01:33.490]which is like, where did you find this animal?
[01:01:34.910]Blah, blah, blah.
[01:01:35.890]And our staff member opened it up.
[01:01:37.350]And not only was it a rubber snake,
[01:01:39.010]but it was like had little rubber beads coming out of it.
[01:01:43.216]And so we were like, yeah,
[01:01:44.049]and she's like, well I guess I don't have
[01:01:44.882]to fill all this paperwork,
[01:01:46.040]and left it and left.
[01:01:48.990]I had another situation similar to that, that I was like,
[01:01:53.110]there was one day where somebody said,
[01:01:55.190]these Canada goose have been nesting in this place,
[01:01:58.890]and now I think,
[01:02:00.377]and it was under an overpass bridge in Downtown Omaha,
[01:02:04.020]and they're like,
[01:02:04.853]and now the female is dead on the nest,
[01:02:07.270]and the male won't leave her.
[01:02:08.710]And I said, okay, in these cases if that actually happens,
[01:02:12.020]we remove the carcass, we remove the eggs,
[01:02:13.920]and the male will fly away and get out
[01:02:15.870]of the traffic area or whatever.
[01:02:17.460]Canada goose have some fun urban nesting things going on.
[01:02:21.710]And so I drove by and I saw them,
[01:02:23.540]and it did indeed look like the female was dead on the nest.
[01:02:26.490]And so I was like,
[01:02:27.323]how am I gonna do this
[01:02:28.410]without getting that male to attack me?
[01:02:30.190]So I came from behind in a rainstorm knowing that less,
[01:02:34.200]and I'm sneaking up on this goose
[01:02:37.280]to try to get in there,
[01:02:39.810]and then I got about 10 feet away and I went,
[01:02:41.980]that goose isn't moving.
[01:02:43.610]That goose isn't moving.
[01:02:45.110]And it was, they were stuffed.
[01:02:48.140]They were stuffed under and overpass in Downtown Omaha.
[01:02:51.170]There was like a fake,
[01:02:52.260]there was a stuffed Canada standing up
[01:02:54.327]and a stuffed Canada laying down on a fake nest.
[01:02:59.640]And the person who called me
[01:03:00.700]was a U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee.
[01:03:03.760]And I was like,
[01:03:04.660]and I literally sat down in the rain,
[01:03:06.920]on a hill in Downtown Omaha and laughed for like 15 minutes,
[01:03:10.800]like what an idiot I was, and all that stuff.
[01:03:15.131]So, those aren't any animals that actually needed our care,
[01:03:17.040]but those are the ones that make us laugh around here, yeah.
[01:03:20.040]Well, those were excellent.
[01:03:21.470]Thank you for sharing.
[01:03:25.280]I still dunno who put the stuffed goose
[01:03:27.070]on a hillside under an overpass.
[01:03:32.020]The nearest building was abandoned,
[01:03:33.520]so it's even that,
[01:03:34.600]like there was even that going on.
[01:03:36.350]I did look around for a camera
[01:03:38.430]to see if I was like
[01:03:39.263]on candid camera or something, but, yeah.
[01:03:41.040]I was gonna say like the Fish and Wildlife person
[01:03:43.130]is just trying to punk you out, like.
[01:03:44.600]Yeah, like, maybe.
[01:03:47.320]The dumb wildlife rehabilitator is gonna go out here
[01:03:48.813]and try to catch the bird.
[01:03:56.470]One thing I was interested in,
[01:03:58.620]you were talking about sort of your new facility
[01:04:02.470]and a lot of like the new equipment that you have,
[01:04:05.390]and how versatile, I guess some of it is.
[01:04:08.300]Like, as you say, like the same equipment
[01:04:11.330]that can treat like a big cat
[01:04:13.500]can also treat like a hummingbird or something.
[01:04:15.530]And, yeah, I was wondering
[01:04:16.590]if you could talk more about that,
[01:04:17.870]if there's like other kinds of equipment,
[01:04:21.000]yeah, that seems, I guess, have that,
[01:04:23.440]yeah, that same kind of flexibility,
[01:04:24.561]which I just think is so cool.
[01:04:27.697]Yeah, actually the design of our building
[01:04:29.440]was made to be flexible.
[01:04:31.180]So almost every single animal nursery here
[01:04:33.780]could be used for any species.
[01:04:36.280]And we did that to be able to absorb
[01:04:38.960]the ebb and flow of numbers,
[01:04:41.480]or if we all of a sudden have an oil spill,
[01:04:45.670]which you think would never happen in Nebraska,
[01:04:48.170]but Minnesota had an oil spill on a river
[01:04:50.480]during waterfowl migration several years ago
[01:04:53.160]and got like 300 oiled water birds in two days.
[01:04:58.020]So we wanted to make sure
[01:04:59.520]that if we got 200 birds all in one day,
[01:05:01.850]or heaven forbid, 200 raccoons in one day,
[01:05:05.810]that we would be able to absorb that across our nurseries.
[01:05:09.560]And so we have very few nurseries
[01:05:11.740]that are not flexible in that way.
[01:05:13.210]They're all cleanable.
[01:05:14.543]They all have biosecurity possibilities
[01:05:18.240]either in ingrained or things that we can add
[01:05:20.810]to deal with things like HPI
[01:05:22.620]or any other disease that might come along.
[01:05:25.190]And then our veterinary equipment is also that way.
[01:05:29.783]So, we bought a Dental X-ray,
[01:05:31.190]a portable Dental X-ray,
[01:05:32.500]so that not only could we,
[01:05:34.060]we do have to sometimes image like opossum teeth,
[01:05:36.530]or coyote teeth,
[01:05:37.760]but also that X-ray can be used to image
[01:05:41.010]really tiny bird wings or bat wings.
[01:05:44.870]And so we tried to work with wildlife veterinarians
[01:05:49.790]across the country and local veterinarians,
[01:05:52.730]and people who do animal husbandry in all sorts of ways
[01:05:57.150]to try to do it right the first time, right?
[01:06:01.160]And a lot of planning went into this building
[01:06:04.170]and the execution of this building.
[01:06:05.430]And I will tell you that sometimes our engineers
[01:06:07.770]and our architect and our contractor were like,
[01:06:09.965]you are nuts.
[01:06:11.320]And I'm like,
[01:06:12.153]no, you don't understand what it takes
[01:06:13.700]to take care of a massive number of animals.
[01:06:16.640]Trust me that this what we need.
[01:06:19.615]And in the end they were like,
[01:06:20.448]you're right, you did need that.
[01:06:22.123]I'm like, I told you.
[01:06:23.630]It's all of that.
[01:06:24.463]So, we just tried to console as many experts as possible
[01:06:28.730]to make it a flexible facility
[01:06:31.420]and to ensure that we had the equipment we needed.
[01:06:34.110]And we wouldn't have been able to do that
[01:06:35.540]without an incredible amount of generosity from donors,
[01:06:40.400]almost all from the State of Nebraska.
[01:06:42.180]Very few came from within, yeah.
[01:06:47.180]Yeah, well that is just so cool.
[01:06:50.840]And, oh, and Margaret connected
[01:06:52.950]to our previous conversation mentioned
[01:06:55.280]that we'll have to plant a badger somewhere for you, Laura.
[01:06:59.030]Oh, how ridiculously you are with a plan like that.
[01:07:02.690]I'll be ready with all my tools to get the.
[01:07:09.674]We actually got an orphan baby badger last year,
[01:07:12.450]and I made,
[01:07:13.800]the people were a little dicey,
[01:07:15.600]so I made them tell me where they got it.
[01:07:17.490]So I drive an hour and a half away
[01:07:19.650]and I find the mom dead on the road, right?
[01:07:22.480]But I found the den,
[01:07:23.530]because of course I was like,
[01:07:24.363]maybe there are more baby badgers out there.
[01:07:27.146]And I found the den,
[01:07:27.979]and the first night I got there,
[01:07:29.380]a baby badger came up,
[01:07:30.620]poked its head out and went back down.
[01:07:32.180]And badger dens are really diverse, right?
[01:07:36.265]And they're huge.
[01:07:37.100]And so I couldn't get him.
[01:07:38.770]I should have been fast.
[01:07:40.040]I should have been like, oh, there he is and grabbed him,
[01:07:42.080]but he went down before I did that.
[01:07:44.100]And so over the next week we went out
[01:07:46.430]and tried all sorts of things to get that other badger out,
[01:07:48.330]including taking one of our employees who's really skinny,
[01:07:51.700]we put her head first down the badger den,
[01:07:53.750]and like somebody else is holding their feet.
[01:07:58.099]And I'm like, we're nuts.
[01:07:59.660]And we're like,
[01:08:00.493]all these people are whizzing by
[01:08:01.326]on the highway staring at us,
[01:08:02.575]and you've got somebody hanging
[01:08:03.408]by her feet down in the badger den.
[01:08:05.804]We'll do almost anything for badgers around here.
[01:08:10.030]Yeah, that must have been a-
[01:08:10.940]I mean, I'm not skinny enough to go down the badger den,
[01:08:12.900]but she was, so it worked out, yeah.
[01:08:15.930]Oh, that's awesome.
[01:08:17.210]Oh, my gosh.
[01:08:18.940]Oh, we have another question from Catherine.
[01:08:23.040]Oh, no, keep them coming, Catherine.
[01:08:25.150]These are great.
[01:08:27.000]Are there different procedures you have to follow
[01:08:29.610]if you receive or find an injured or ill protected species?
[01:08:35.080]Yeah, so anything on the federal
[01:08:36.670]or state-endangered species list
[01:08:38.320]have to be reported
[01:08:39.330]to Nebraska Game and Parks Commission within 24 hours.
[01:08:42.380]There's not a lot of those that we get,
[01:08:45.080]and we have a good relationship with them,
[01:08:46.620]so I just send a text or an email.
[01:08:50.010]Lately the one I've been,
[01:08:51.510]so I said the badgers are my favorite,
[01:08:53.840]but I kind of built my professional credits on bats.
[01:08:57.350]We get over 600 bats every year,
[01:09:00.830]and I've done a lot of work
[01:09:02.270]on husbandry protocols in several bats.
[01:09:04.060]And we're really concerned
[01:09:05.420]about the northern long-eared myotis,
[01:09:07.119]and where it's gone,
[01:09:08.870]and is it gonna come back?
[01:09:10.470]What's the long-term impact on that species as a whole?
[01:09:13.830]That's the one that we're most worried about
[01:09:15.410]that I'd have to kind of report on the regular.
[01:09:17.610]River otters just came off
[01:09:18.980]the state-endangered species list, so,
[01:09:20.990]or the state threatened list.
[01:09:22.000]So, I don't have to report those anymore.
[01:09:25.620]But honestly, the only northern long-eared myotis
[01:09:28.943]I have gotten in the last couple of years
[01:09:30.380]have died within an hour.
[01:09:32.110]And they all had white-nose syndrome, so,
[01:09:34.780]and I haven't had any
[01:09:35.613]in the last 18 months or 24 months, so.
[01:09:39.360]But yeah, we would have to report them.
[01:09:41.290]If we got an endangered migratory bird species,
[01:09:43.103]we'd have to report that federally.
[01:09:45.140]They'd let us keep it,
[01:09:45.973]we could rehab it,
[01:09:46.806]but we'd have to report it.
[01:09:50.810]And then our next question comes from Jacqueline.
[01:09:54.930]What are the best steps for someone to do
[01:09:57.051]when they come across an injured animal?
[01:10:00.840]What I always say is if it's obviously injured,
[01:10:05.040]like it's bleeding, or there's a bone sticking out,
[01:10:07.590]and it is safe to contain it,
[01:10:11.010]it would be to put on protective gloves
[01:10:13.430]and contain that animal.
[01:10:15.000]But clearly that's way different if it's an injured rabbit,
[01:10:18.460]or an injured mountain lion, right?
[01:10:21.540]There's very different.
[01:10:23.550]But if it's uncertain, so somebody says,
[01:10:26.110]I think it's acting weird or I think it's injured,
[01:10:27.890]or I think it's limping,
[01:10:29.520]we always ask people to call us first.
[01:10:32.020]Let's talk about it first,
[01:10:33.260]get a video or a picture of it if you can,
[01:10:36.470]and reach out to us
[01:10:37.800]because maybe that's not what you think it is,
[01:10:40.420]and maybe the animal just needs to be left alone.
[01:10:42.870]But in those cases where it's obvious,
[01:10:44.950]blood, whatever just came outta your dog
[01:10:48.070]or your cat's mouth,
[01:10:49.320]those are the ones where if you can safely contain it,
[01:10:51.550]safely contain it and just bring it
[01:10:53.620]and we'll take care of it.
[01:11:00.130]Then, yeah, I wanted to ask,
[01:11:02.380]you were sort of talking about some of your,
[01:11:05.090]or actually a bunch
[01:11:06.280]of these like great education initiatives.
[01:11:10.483]And I was just wondering sort of,
[01:11:13.200]you mentioned that things
[01:11:14.170]have sort of been impacted by COVID,
[01:11:15.870]like how have they been impacted by COVID,
[01:11:18.380]and have, yeah,
[01:11:20.500]I guess like when we're in this sort of moment
[01:11:23.010]of uncertainty, the pandemic isn't over
[01:11:25.460]and we're not sort of knowing what's what's going on,
[01:11:29.180]yeah, I guess like how have you sort of adapted
[01:11:33.750]some of those initiatives to work in a time
[01:11:36.350]where things are sort of difficult to make things work?
[01:11:38.940]Yeah, so, of course,
[01:11:41.350]a couple of our major education initiatives
[01:11:43.220]in the high school and the middle schools
[01:11:44.740]were completely affected by what schools did.
[01:11:47.020]So, in 2020, they all canceled school.
[01:11:49.290]So, all of our programs we canceled too,
[01:11:52.080]because we were following
[01:11:53.530]the Omaha Public Schools specifically guidance
[01:11:55.760]on what was happening.
[01:11:57.180]And then in the 2021 school year,
[01:12:00.840]our middle schools,
[01:12:02.220]we just followed what the schools
[01:12:03.680]were doing in those programs and our elementary schools,
[01:12:06.820]and we chose not to do during that year,
[01:12:10.810]really any in-person one-off initiatives.
[01:12:13.390]We just stayed out of that.
[01:12:14.780]I did a lot of Zoom things for people,
[01:12:18.060]but nothing on our own initiative.
[01:12:20.170]Our High School Science Academy,
[01:12:21.560]we chose not to have in 2020, 2021.
[01:12:25.780]But instead of that,
[01:12:26.920]what we did is we felt like the summer was safe.
[01:12:29.510]So we took our year-long twice-a-month program
[01:12:32.330]and we put it in three weeks over last summer,
[01:12:35.320]and we actually learned something,
[01:12:36.690]and that was so much fun.
[01:12:38.980]Like we had so much fun because what we did
[01:12:41.760]is for the first week that we did it,
[01:12:43.760]we went out to Cedar Point Biological Station,
[01:12:45.890]UNL's Biological Station in Ogallala.
[01:12:49.610]The second week we were in Omaha
[01:12:50.930]doing a different topic every day,
[01:12:52.027]and the third week we went up to a ranch up on the Niobrara.
[01:12:56.460]And not only there could we do some various programs
[01:13:00.520]that we did and we worked with The Nature Conservancy,
[01:13:02.640]but we also added an agriculture unit to it.
[01:13:07.090]So conventional versus sustainable agricultural practices,
[01:13:11.270]and they got a chance to talk to ranchers and farmers.
[01:13:14.670]And that's not something they can do
[01:13:15.750]when they're sitting in Omaha, right?
[01:13:18.140]Not in person anyway.
[01:13:19.240]So, that was really cool.
[01:13:22.230]And so now we're talking about finding the resources
[01:13:25.460]to do the program in both ways,
[01:13:27.110]because I think it has value in both ways.
[01:13:30.420]And then some of the other stuff
[01:13:32.350]like the Flying Squirrel Study
[01:13:33.850]that we're starting this year,
[01:13:35.320]we delayed for a year because we just weren't sure,
[01:13:38.620]and we were gonna be working with students
[01:13:40.030]from kind of all over Lincoln and that sort of stuff.
[01:13:42.780]So, I feel like for,
[01:13:45.887]and for us here when we're working with animals,
[01:13:48.300]knowing that some of our animals can get COVID
[01:13:49.877]and some can die from it,
[01:13:52.150]we're still an all-masked facility.
[01:13:54.580]And I don't see that with HPI happening too.
[01:13:57.940]I don't see that changing anytime soon for us,
[01:14:00.590]we will remain all masked all the time.
[01:14:04.170]But we are trying to stay up on public health
[01:14:08.470]and what the recommendations are from the experts,
[01:14:11.290]'cause that is not our field.
[01:14:14.130]But we want to return to our education programs
[01:14:16.170]because they are not only important to our mission,
[01:14:20.660]but I think they're important to the students
[01:14:22.189]and actually to our staff that does them.
[01:14:24.775]We're all in.
[01:14:25.970]Like we have a high school program going on this week
[01:14:27.810]that I'm teaching and it's great.
[01:14:30.070]So much fun.
[01:14:31.440]I missed it.
[01:14:33.040]Oh, that's awesome.
[01:14:34.190]Yeah, and, well, as you say too,
[01:14:36.360]like I think what you were talking about the facility,
[01:14:38.600]like being able to like not have to bring animals
[01:14:44.740]to like all these locations and sort of stress them out,
[01:14:47.840]and being able to find alternatives even for them,
[01:14:51.650]like, yeah, it just seems
[01:14:53.470]like there are so many great ways to navigate,
[01:14:55.960]again, some of these challenges that come off COVID,
[01:14:58.660]or were present ahead of COVID
[01:15:00.490]that maybe just COVID forces us
[01:15:01.920]to think about new ways.
[01:15:04.658]And you know what's interesting
[01:15:05.491]is we had kind of integrated technology anyway,
[01:15:07.307]just traditionally our animals
[01:15:08.930]can't handle huge human loads, but one of the,
[01:15:13.030]so, Alex Wiles who is a photographer
[01:15:15.570]and a videographer and a storyteller,
[01:15:17.500]he has worked for us in various ways for many years,
[01:15:22.300]and when we open this building,
[01:15:23.479]he actually does his freelance work
[01:15:26.360]and work for us out of our building.
[01:15:28.790]And so it's kind of a daily around here about,
[01:15:31.810]what do we do to use photography,
[01:15:33.810]videography storytelling technology
[01:15:36.730]to share our mission and to interact with people?
[01:15:40.770]And I'm really excited
[01:15:41.700]about where we can take that in the next few years,
[01:15:43.827]and we're gonna just keep working on it.
[01:15:49.870]Yeah, well, we're sort of approaching
[01:15:52.640]the end of our time here, I guess,
[01:15:54.480]are there any additional questions
[01:15:58.000]or anything folks wanna talk about?
[01:16:04.750]Otherwise, okay, I guess we'll,
[01:16:07.530]oh, yes, we'll go ahead,
[01:16:08.977]and yeah, of course, a few praise coming in for you, Laura.
[01:16:14.010]Thank you so much for speaking today.
[01:16:16.460]I just enjoyed the presentation so much.
[01:16:19.610]It's so great to hear about your work.
[01:16:21.110]I think it's so important.
[01:16:22.620]It's so hilarious in some cases as well.
[01:16:26.380]And yeah, I just,
[01:16:27.521]I feel very lucky that we got to hear from you.
[01:16:30.400]So, thank you so much.
[01:16:31.949]Well, thank you so much for having me.
[01:16:32.782]It was really my pleasure.
[01:16:36.013]Well, thank you all of you for attending the second event,
[01:16:38.800]and yeah, next month,
[01:16:41.330]we're going to be doing a two-part event.
[01:16:45.480]The first part is going to be all about voices of,
[01:16:50.010]BIPOC Voices in Conservation and the Outdoors,
[01:16:52.400]and the second part will be,
[01:16:53.970]Voices of Heartland Immigrant and Refugee Communities.
[01:16:57.190]So, stick around for that,
[01:16:58.750]and looking forward to seeing you next month,
[01:17:01.210]and otherwise again,
[01:17:02.043]thank you, everybody,
[01:17:02.876]have a great night.
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