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October 17, 2019

Jacob friede/lakeland times

This adult bald eagle is currently recovering at the Northwoods Wildlife Center after suffering a significant burn this summer.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

This adult bald eagle is currently recovering at the Northwoods Wildlife Center after suffering a significant burn this summer.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

Northwoods Wildlife Center intern Jenna Atma holds up a young porcupine that is recuperating from a broken leg. The porcupine also suffered shotgun wounds
Jacob friede/lakeland times

Northwoods Wildlife Center intern Jenna Atma holds up a young porcupine that is recuperating from a broken leg. The porcupine also suffered shotgun wounds
9/14/2019 7:30:00 AM
Patients making progress at Northwoods Wildlife Center
Porcupine and bald eagle recovering from a tough summer
Jacob Friede
Of the Lakeland Times

The Northwoods Wildlife Center (NWC), a wildlife rehabilitation center in Minocqua, is currently caring for a porcupine who had very rough summer.

On July 29 a team from the NWC was called to Trout Lake Golf Course where it was reported a porcupine was on the course and it appeared to be immobile.

"The only thing they knew was that he was on the ground and he wasn't really moving that much," NWC director of wildlife rehabilitation Amanda Walsh, who was on the scene for the rescue, explained. "We went out to check it out and he was favoring one of his legs and kind of attempting to walk away. There was something going on."

Porcupines typically stay up in trees for safety, so the fact that the porcupine remained on the ground as the team approached was the first thing that triggered Walsh's concern. Based on the mediocre size of the animal the porcupine was estimated to be a young-of-the-year.

Eventually, with the use of a catch pole, crate, and safety gloves, the porcupine was secured and transported to the NWC.

"We took him back. We put him under anesthesia and we took an X-ray and he had broken his front leg," Walsh said.

But that wasn't all.

"When we did an X-ray we also determined that he was shot with a shotgun," she said.

Fragments of shotgun pellets were found around the broken leg, and one was found in the porcupines head.

It could not be determined when the porcupine was shot, though Walsh suspects it may have been the cause of its fall.

"I think that it was fairly recently before he was grounded because I think he was shot and then he kind of fell out of the tree and he was kind of just coping until we rescued him," Walsh said.

After arriving at the center, the porcupine had a pin surgically placed into the broken leg to stabilize it. The leg was then wrapped and a regimen of antibiotics and pain medication was prescribed.

The first part of the porcupine's stay at the NWC has been in a small cage to dissuade it from climbing and stressing the broken leg.

"He should really focus on healing," Walsh said. "But he's feisty."

The stabilizing pin fell out while re-wrapping the leg, and the leg is now supported by a popsicle stick which acts as a splint. Further X-rays have showed the bone is healing correctly and in a couple weeks, if that progress continues, the porcupine will be transferred to a larger indoor cage. There his climbing and foraging ability will be tested as branches will be placed in the larger house.

A porcupine's natural diet is woody plant material like tree leaves and bark.

If the porcupine has no trouble with the injured leg indoors, the final part of its stay will be in an outdoor mammal cage.

The shotgun pellets have not seemed to affect the porcupine's health or behavior so the NWC doesn't plan on removing them.

"I don't think that we will be removing any of the shotgun pellets, because they're so tiny. It would be a lot of incision," Walsh said.

Throughout the porcupine's stay at the NWC, staff will only interact with it for a maximum of 15 minutes per day. That is so it doesn't grow dangerously tolerant of people.

"He'll have to be appropriately afraid of humans," Walsh said. "As a rehab center we're not socializing them at all, because our number one goal is to release them back out into the wild."

Walsh expects the porcupine to make a full recovery, but before it is released back into the wild it must pass a rigorous health inspection and prove it is strong enough to move and forage for food by itself.

"I would say at least a month that he will still be here," Walsh said.

The NWC is currently caring for four other porcupines. Two were orphaned, one was hit by a car, and one is nursing an old injury.



Burned bald eagle

There is another patient at the Northwoods Wildlife Center who was hit with tough luck this summer.

An adult bald eagle was reported grounded on an island on Plum Lake, and since it couldn't fly for food, the eagle's mate was helping out.

"His mate was actually feeding him on the ground because he couldn't fly," Walsh said.

A intern rescuer was sent out by rowboat to retrieve the eagle and bring it back to the center where it was found to have a severe burn from just below its beak to its wrist.

"That could be from lightning. That could be from a firework. Again, we don't know with wildlife," Walsh said. "He healed just fine with us."

During that healing process, however the eagle got a little out of shape.

"He's outside regaining that muscle mass because he was inside for so long with us," Walsh said. "He can fly perfect, like glide on the ground, but at this point he's having a hard time gaining height, and so we're still kind of monitoring him in that way."

The eagle currently lives in a massive flight cage, which resembles a huge warehouse.

"That allows them to fly continuously without stopping if they want to," Walsh said.

The eagle will not be released until it is able to gain sufficient elevation. For now it just flies low to the ground.

If the eagle is unable to progress, more examinations will ensue.

"He might have a fracture to his clavicle or something that's preventing him from gaining height," Walsh said.

When the eagle is able and ready to soar, it will be released back to the island where it was found so that it can be reunited with its caring mate.

"Eagles mate for life," Walsh said. "We would like to release him back to where he came from because that's his territory."

Both the porcupine and the eagle were definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time this summer, but thankfully they landed at just the right place at the Northwoods Wildlife Center.

"The majority of animals that we admit here are due to human error," Walsh said. "We like to think we're righting a wrong in that way."

Established in 1979, the NWC's mission is to provide a better future for wildlife through rehabilitation, education, and research.

To report a wild animal in need of care, call the NWC at 715-356-7400.

They are available 24/7.

For more information on the Northwoods Wildlife Center visit northwoodswildlifecenter.org.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or outdoors@

lakelandtimes.com.





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