How the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center Helps Animals

Humboldt Wildlife Care Center rescues, rehabilitates and releases wild animals
Humboldt Wildlife Care Center rescues, rehabilitates and releases wild animals

Bird Ally X is a nonprofit organization that runs the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center.

Monte Merrick, Director of the center, told Redwood News how this partnership came to be. “Bird Ally X started as an idea like most things, and quickly spread,” says Merrick.  “There was a group of six of us who were all working together at International Bird Rescue down in the Bay Area, and we saw a need for our skills getting distributed throughout the wildlife caregiver community because we specialized in aquatic birds and we mostly worked like oil spills and stuff like that.”

Bird Ally X literally wrote the book on aquatic bird rescue, releasing a manual in 20-12.  the group was formed in 2009 to help educate wildlife rescue centers along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington about how to properly care for sea birds.

One of the first organizations that Bird Ally X helped was the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. Monte explains, “That began with that Pelican response.  That bunch of juvenile brown pelicans were getting involved in fish cleaning stations at public fish cleaning docks and boat launches and stuff like that, because they could eat the scraps for the most part. And pelicans are not evolved to eat scraps. So they got tuna heads lodged in their throats.”

Monte says that pelicans evolved to eat fish whole, not in pieces, so their stomachs encounter the fish oil, not their faces or feathers.

Monte continues, “The oil from the fish was basically having the same impact on them that oil spill would have with it.  Big exception that it wasn’t toxic food. So there were no like skin burns and no organ damage and stuff like that that would come from petroleum. But there was the loss of waterproofing. And for a pelican to thrive in 50 degree northern California ocean water, they need to be able to stay waterproof so that when they go into the ocean to get their fish, they don’t get wet and they maintain their temperature of 103 degrees.”

The Humboldt wildlife care center treats any wild animals we might interact with, which, in the North Coast area, is vast, including small mammals and many types of birds.   Injured marine mammals such as seals or sea lions are treated by the North Coast Marine Mammal Center.  The main goal of treating and rehabilitating these animals is, of course, to get them back home in nature.

There are several ways to help monte and Humboldt wildlife care center crew, if you’d like to get involved. “We have a lot of problems that you actually can throw money at. And so money helps.” Monty says.

You can also volunteer. Monte says that he began as a volunteer. “It’s the only way into the field that I am really aware of. So if you’re interested in providing care for wild animals and learning how to do that and to do it in a way that really benefits them, it isn’t about making ourselves feel better, then this is a great way to do that, and we’d be happy to have you.”

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