Column: Giving time to wildlife in needCailin Engstrom began volunteering with Wildwoods in 2012 and returned this summer with added responsibilities.
By: Grace Moores, For the Budgeteer News
Cailin Engstrom began volunteering with Wildwoods in 2012 and returned this summer with added responsibilities.
Now, with the official title of Critter Care Supervisor, Engstrom’s responsibilities include training new volunteers, cleaning and organizing the cages and work areas, and “feeding everybody that needs to be
fed in the morning,” Engstrom said. Usually this refers to the animals, not other Wildwoods volunteers. She deals with the animals that have been injured, orphaned, or abandoned.
“Overall,” says Engstrom, “I really enjoy seeing animals grow and being able to release them into their natural habitat.”
Although the daily volunteer tasks are not usually high-adventure, Engstrom’s volunteer career started off with a bang. She showed up to her first day to volunteer and was greeted with, “Get in the car! We have to go!”
Engstrom has been on a few rescue missions with the executive director, local conservation officers and police, and volunteers. But most days, most animals are brought to the rehabilitation center for care.
Among the critters in this week is a goldfinch from the mouth of a cat. (We’ve started him on antibiotics and hope we can keep him alive. The bacteria in cats’ mouths is lethal to wildlife.) We’ve received and sent a broad-winged hawk, redtailed hawk and young mourning dove to the Twin Cities for advanced care. We’ve received an injured big brown bat, who had a torn membrane on one of his wings. That didn’t hurt his appetite, though — he ate 26 mealworms.
These creatures come from as far away as the Iron Range and as close as Canal Park, and they each pose their own challenges. But the diversity of critters is part of the joy of work at Wildwoods.
Engstrom and other volunteers stay on the center’s property, feeding squirrels and birds, cleaning cages, and performing other tasks to promote the daily health and happiness of the animals.
This is all experience that Engstrom is hoping she will continue to use in her life. She began volunteering at Wildwoods after her advisor sparked her interest. She was looking for some volunteer work that would develop her experience and knowledge of wildlife rehabilitation.
Currently studying biology at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Engstrom hopes to continue her career in biology in some area of wildlife conservation or wildlife biology.
“I’m hoping that I can either go on to work at the wolf center in Ely or do some type of conservation work,” she said.
In the meantime, whether it’s feeding infant squirrels with a syringe, feeding infant raccoons with a bottle, or feeding infant birds some mealworms, Cailin and all the volunteers at Wildwoods have their hands full.
If you are interested in volunteering with Wildwoods, visit https://sites.google.com/a/d.umn.edu/wildwoods-volunteer-site. For general
information about help for orphaned and injured wildlife, visit http://www.wildwoodsrehab.org.
Grace Moores studied at the University of MN, Duluth. Currently she works with Wildwoods, a 501(c)(3) non-profit wildlife rehabilitation organization in Duluth.