Call of the Wild Program 2021

26th annual Call of the Wild conference

November 19-21, 2021

Friday, November 19

The Role of Wildlife Rehabilitators in One Health [1 hour]
One Health is a concept that connects the health of animals, people, and the environment. This talk focuses on what rehabilitators can do to support One Health and includes examples of what is being done at Blue Ridge Wildlife Center.    
Jen Riley, DVM, Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, VA

Patient Updates in Wildlife Rehabilitation [1 hour]
Every wildlife rehabilitator faces a familiar question when a member of the public brings in an animal: “Is there any way you can let me know how it’s doing?” Providing updates on patients can be a time-consuming and sometimes difficult process, but there are many potential benefits to giving detailed explanations of the care we provide to animals and the outcome of each case. This discussion covers the Wildlife Center of Virginia's process for responding to requests for patient updates, including how to structure a patient update, communication considerations, and practice sessions to develop your skills.
Connor Gillespie, Wildlife Center of Virginia         

Caring for Nature in a Digital Age: Wildlife Rehabilitation in the Era of Online Video Content [1 hour]            
The rise of online video content has had a major impact not only on society, but also on the field of wildlife rehabilitation. In this presentation, we explore the major creators and curators of this content, discuss the impact that it is already having on our field, and consider what steps we as rehabilitators can take to be prepared for this new reality.             
Benjamin Cole, The Wildlife Center of Virginia

Building and Fostering Your Support Network [.5 hour]        
In the world of wildlife care, self-care and mental health awareness are essential. We hear a lot about setting boundaries and leaning on our support network for help when we need it, but we rarely discuss HOW to go about doing that. Have you ever failed to realize you were burning out until it was too late? Have you felt like you are so overwhelmed that you don’t even have time to figure out who to ask for help, or what they can even do? This short presentation introduces and guides participants through a three-part activity to identify, categorize, and make connections with your support network so that you know exactly WHAT kind of help you need, WHO to contact, and WHEN to reach out.       
Maggie McCartney, Wildlife Center of Virginia

News & Updates from Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources [1 hour]
Join us for a live panel discussion with state wildlife veterinarian Dr. Megan Kirchgessner, and JD Kleopfer, Virginia’s state herpetologist. Both DWR officials will have brief presentations on current respective work, including updates and related changes that have taken place in 2021, including wildlife disease monitoring and updates, as well as important legislative changes that took place in 2021. There will be plenty of time to ask questions; feel free to submit your question through the Whova Q&A panel ahead of time to ensure Dr. Megan and JD have time to address it!                                      
Meghan Kirchgessner, DVM, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
JD Kleopfer, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources

Quality of Life for Ambassador Animals [1 hour]             
How does one quantify quality of life for ambassador animals? This talk introduces animal welfare concepts as a baseline framework for quality of life. Discussion includes how to make something that can be very subjective more objective. Participants leave with tools to get started on baseline measurements and learn how to use the information to help make informed decisions on management and care of individual animals.         
Gail Buhl, Partners for Wildlife, The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, MN

Teaching Foundation Behaviors & Why They Matter [1 hour]
Although teaching maintenance behaviors to our animals may seem basic, and at times unnecessary, in reality these practices are some of the most important ones to establish. This talk focuses on the importance of teaching a scale and crate behavior for both exhibit and ambassador birds. We explore how, once solid, these behaviors can positively impact every aspect of our animals’ lives, including improving welfare, decreasing stress, maximizing control for the individual, and voluntary participation in medical care.    
Jackie Kozlowski, Tracy Aviary, UT

Advanced Virtual Programming: Shifting Gears for the Coming Years [.5 hour]
During 2020, wildlife and environmental educators (along with the rest of the world) experienced one of the field’s most significant paradigm shifts in recent memory – classrooms were empty, and chatrooms were plenty. One and a half years later, what have we learned from transitioning to virtual and online programming? This lecture provides an in-depth examination of the educational techniques and platforms utilized by the Wildlife Center to reach online audiences, an evaluation of effectiveness, and discussions focused on preparing individuals and organizations for the future of virtual programming.
Alex Wehrung, The Wildlife Center of Virginia           

Organizing Your Wildlife Education Message [.5 hour]    
When we are so passionate about our work, it can be hard to condense our thoughts, knowledge, and call to action to make them impactful for the audience. Learn some tips and tricks and easy ways to mix and match your programs depending on your audience, the environment, and the animal.   
Debbie  Sykes, Nashville Wildlife Conservation Center, TN

Grant-Writing Strategies That Work [1 hour]
Effective grant-writing can be a great way to earn funds for new or established wildlife rehabilitators, but it can feel overwhelming. This presentation takes participants through each element of a successful wildlife grant application. Learn innovative strategies to find funding and how to align your needs with agency priorities. Most importantly, this session focuses on how to convert ideas into concrete plans. This includes forming grant-ready Specific Aims ready to slip into your next application.       
Amanda Healan, PhD, Nashville Wildlife Conservation Center, TN

Over Capacity! Dealing with a Rapid Influx of Patients [2 hours]
Every rehabilitator will be faced with a time of the year in which the number of animals exceeds the carrying capacity of the resources. In this interactive, live session, we discuss why we must keep below capacity and strategies we can implement to stay under capacity before, during, and after a rapid influx of patients.       
Renee Schott DVM, CWR, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, MN


Saturday, November 20

Something Seems Off: A Look into the Canine Distemper Outbreak & Bird Mortality Events in Northern Virginia Through the Lens of the Field Response [1 hour]         
At the end of November 2020, something started happening with raccoons in Arlington County, Virginia. Animal Control Officers were responding to elevated calls for sick raccoons appearing in the northside of the county. The raccoons coming in were showing symptoms we had never seen before. We were able to clinically confirm this to be the start of a canine distemper outbreak that quickly spread through the region. And then on May 18, 2021, the Animal Control Team began receiving an increase in the number of calls regarding sick/injured juvenile birds, specifically Common Grackles and Blue Jays. Eye issues were reported in what otherwise looked like healthy juvenile birds, causing blindness and the birds to land and stay on the ground. Other agencies and localities across the region and state reported similar issues quickly thereafter. This lecture will discuss the first signs, the next steps, and the ongoing efforts for these two large-scale wildlife disease outbreaks through the lens of the Arlington County Animal Control Team.   
Jennifer Toussaint, Animal Welfare League of Arlington, VA

Woodpeckers of Virginia: Using Natural History as a Foundation for Rehabilitation [.5 hour]
A successful rehabilitation plan is tailored around an animal’s natural history and adapting care to best suit their specific needs. Woodpeckers, though all grouped in the same family, are highly individualized. This lecture highlights the natural history of each species of woodpecker in Virginia and explores how we can meet their needs in captivity.
Kelsey Pleasants, CWR, Wildlife Center of Virginia

Standards in Wildlife Rehabilitation: What's New & Why Should I Care? [.5 hour]    
Minimum Standards in Wildlife Rehabilitation was first published in 1989 as a cooperative effort representing current knowledge, expertise, and techniques in our field. Each successive edition has acted as a reflection of what we have learned collectively and have successfully applied during the last three decades. Standards in Wildlife Rehabilitation (2020) provides new information related to animal welfare, as well as recommended standards for wildlife rehabilitation. This presentation discusses how standards relate to wildlife care, new content, and why standards continue to be an important part of our work as rehabilitators.   
Jenny Schlieps, Focus Wildlife, WA
Erica Miller, DVM, Wildlife Futures Program, PA 


Evaluating Habitat for Release: A Practical Guide [1 hour]
How do you evaluate possible release sites for your patients? What makes “good” habitat good? This lecture discusses the principles behind wildlife habitat management and how to apply them to rehabilitation in a practical way. The lecture also works through case studies and exceptions for certain species, and why habitat managers may make decisions that may not make sense to the average person. Why should you know what side of a hiking trail a mole came from for release? Why could clear-cutting a forest actually be a positive thing for wildlife conservation? How do you define what is or isn't habitat? What does an ideal release site look like? All these questions and more are answered!         
E. Haley Olsen-Hodges, Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke, VA

Updates, Advances and New Ideas to Help Your Fostering Program [1 hour]           
Medicine River Wildlife Centre stumbled into their current fostering program from directly observing wild animals and birds in nature. It was never a conscious decision to create a fostering program. Since the initial days, new ideas, protocols, and methods have evolved. This presentation discusses the beginning methods of fostering several species and shares the advances that makes this tool easier and more successful.             
Carol Kelly, Medicine River Wildlife Centre, Alberta, Canada

Working Together for Wildlife: The Apprentice/Mentor Relationship [1 hour]    
Many states have requirements and guidelines for those who are becoming new wildlife rehabilitators. These apprentices are tasked with finding a seasoned wildlife rehabilitator to serve as a mentor during a set period of time, and to work with and learn from that mentor to prepare them to become independent rehabilitators. Hourly requirements and other helpful suggestions vary from state to state, but much is left to the individuals entering this important and unique relationship. How do you set up a good relationship to provide essential training? How do you ensure that the person you'll be working with during this period is a good match? Join us for a panel discussion with both seasoned rehabilitator mentors as well as new apprentices to hear a variety of examples and ideas on what works well!          
Leslie Sturges, The Save Lucy Campaign, VA   

The Physiologic Effects of Acute & Chronic Stress in Captive Wildlife [1 hour]
In the short term, stress can be adaptive and of benefit to animals. However, stress over prolonged periods of time can result in altered immune function and delayed wound healing, which can impede recovery efforts in wildlife undergoing rehabilitation. In this talk, we discuss the physiologic bases and consequences of acute and chronic stress in captive wildlife.             
Jennifer Yu, DVM, Wildlife Center of Virginia

Triage Tips: Setting Patients up for Success from the Beginning [1 hour]
This is an introductory-level lecture covering the basics of transport, triage, and the first steps in a rehabilitation plan. This includes patient evaluations, basics such as initial stabilization and wound care, and other techniques to get your patients started on the right track.
Amber McNamara, DVM, Lees-McRae College, May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, NC

Fluid Therapy in Wildlife Lecture [1 hour]
Almost all wildlife patients can benefit greatly from fluid therapy; however, these patients come in many species, shapes, and sizes, with a large variety of injuries and illnesses. This makes a “one dose fits all” approach to fluid therapy risky. This workshop lecture includes discussion of the tell-tail signs of dehydration and over-hydration. Become familiar with the different types of fluids available, routes of administration, and how to formulate and carry out a fluid therapy plan.    
Karra Pierce, DVM, CWR, Wildlife Center of Virginia           

Fluid Therapy in Wildlife Demonstration [.5 hour]
This video compendium is a companion with the fluid therapy lecture and demonstrates the described techniques in birds, mammals, and reptiles. 
Karra Pierce, DVM, CWR, Wildlife Center of Virginia

Effective Disinfection for Common Wildlife Diseases [.5 hour]   
This lecture provides an overview of the different levels of sanitization, as well as the main types of disinfectants available. Discussion includes what specific disinfectants are most effective against some of the more common communicable wildlife diseases in Virginia, including avian pox, snake fungal disease, and mange. Participants also receive resources to help them independently determine which disinfectants are best for their practice and for the diseases they most commonly see.      
Ace Eid, LVT, Wildlife Center of Virginia

Not Fit for Human Consumption: Drug Withdrawal Times & Prohibited Medications [.5 hour]
Veterinary drugs are essential in wildlife medicine; however, we need to remember that our patients serve many roles in the ecosystem, and some may ultimately be hunted for human consumption. We may need to view certain species as "food animals" and be cognizant of drug withdrawal times, including those medications that are prohibited for use in food animals.             
Karra Pierce, DVM, CWR, Wildlife Center of Virginia

Anesthesia Complications & Troubleshooting [1 hour]
While anesthesia offers an array of challenges, there are additional complications to take into consideration when dealing with wildlife, especially birds and raptors. In this presentation, we take a closer look at some of the more common mistakes to avoid, and how to differentiate the needs of mammals versus birds and raptors.
Alyssa Lakota, LVT, Wildlife Center of Virginia           

Sunday, November 21

Bat Rehab for Dummies! [1 hour]   
What happens when you don’t have a bat flight enclosure, then get funding to build a bat flight enclosure, but COVID-19 prevents you from rehabbing bats that year, and then suddenly you’re allowed to rehab bats again -- and a whole bunch show up on your doorstep? A lot of confusion, learning, some fails, and many successes! Join us as we talk about the basics of bat rehabilitation. We’ll discuss natural history, pup nutrition, proper housing, setting your bats up for release, and more. You don’t need to be an expert to have a wonderful experience rehabilitating bats – enthusiasts and newbies are welcome. Let’s get batty!
Sarah Cooperman, Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, VA

Rehabilitating the Virginia Opossum [1 hour]
Opossums are one of the most common small mammals rehabilitators see throughout the year. While common, opossums are also incredibly unique, being the only marsupial we see here in the U.S. and Canada! Join us to learn more about these fascinating mammals, their natural history, and rehabilitation methods for opossums of all ages.    
Jessica Andersen, Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, VA

Successfully Rehabilitating Eastern Cottontails: Avoiding Stress & GI-related Mortalities [1 hour]             
The Eastern Cottontail is notoriously difficult to rehabilitate since the species [rabbits], particularly neonates, frequently succumb to diarrhea, bloat, and capture myopathy. This presentation addresses those challenges and offers some practical solutions that help to increase release rates while decreasing compassion fatigue.
Linda McDaniel, Augusta Cottontails, VA 

(Mostly) Small Flying Things and How to House Them Panel Discussion [1 hour]       
Join us for a panel discussion of the whys and wherefores and ins and outs (literally) of designing appropriate flight acclimation spaces for bats and small birds. If time permits, we might throw in some big bird discussion, too!
Leslie Sturges, The Save Lucy Campaign, VA
Sarah Cooperman, Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, VA
Jessica Anderson, Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, VA

Working with Ducks: Best Practices and Lessons Learned [1 hour]             
This class discusses the practices of escorting, rescuing, and studying waterfowl in urban settings, as well as fostering waterfowl-friendly human communities.    
Anne Lewis and April Linton, City Wildlife, Washington DC             

Common Conditions in Adult Waterfowl [1 hour]
Adult waterfowl present for a variety of reasons, and present commonly. This case-based presentation discusses some of the most common conditions and how to triage them. Focus is on Canada Geese, Mallards, and maybe a few Trumpeter Swan cases.   
Renee Schott, DVM, CWR, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, MN

Raptor Physical Exam: Lecture & Demonstration [1 hour]         
This chapter is from the Wildlife Care Academy's course, Assessment, Rescue, & Intake of Raptors. The entire course, found at, trains participants to assess wild raptors, plan rescue attempts, and establish thorough patient intake protocols.  Topics discussed include common circumstances of admission, tools for evaluating wildlife concerns by phone or email, practical rescue, handling, and transport techniques, patient intake, information gathering, physical exam considerations, decision making, and more! In this chapter, Dr. Karra Pierce discusses providing a thorough and consistent physical exam for newly admitted raptor patients and provides a hands-on demonstration on a raptor cadaver. Remember, conference attendees can take advantage of a special discount on all Academy classes; check your registration confirmation to utilize your 20% off code on any/all Wildlife Care Academy classes now through the end of the year!            
Karra Pierce, DVM, CWR, Wildlife Center of Virginia, Wildlife Care Academy

Basics of Amphibian Rehabilitation [1 hour]
This lecture offers an overview of amphibian health, discussing appropriate housing and handling, basic physical exams, and common diseases, including information about Chytridiomycosis and necessary biosecurity precautions.
Emily MacArthur, DVM, Wildlife Center of Virginia           

The Box Turtle Patient: Creating a Supportive Environment for Recovery [1 hour]          
Wild box turtles (Terrapene species) come into rehabilitation primarily due to injury from vehicle strikes and less frequently due to other trauma or disease. Turtles can be problematic to treat, given their shy personality and great strength in pulling their legs and head in and tightly closing their shell. This presentation addresses handling and proper set-up to elicit patient cooperation, diet, hydration, recommendations on handling and transport of compromised animals to the rehabber, and protocols for release after recovery.           
Sandy Barnett, Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society

Mental Health & Self-care: A Community Conversation [1 hour]
Compassion fatigue, burnout, and other mental health concerns are important considerations in the field of wildlife rehabilitation, as in many caregiving and trauma-related fields.  As a community, it is essential that we offer support and care to one another and know when and how to ask for help. Join us for this live interactive discussion as we close out the conference; we'll discuss challenges, perspectives, and strategies for dealing with difficult aspects of this field.  Leave with some resources and thoughts for additional discussion as you "fill your cup" this winter and get ready for a new year of rehabilitation joys and challenges!
Lacy Kegley, Wildlife Center of Virginia