Original article posted June 7, 2017 in the Toledo Blade - Alexandra Mester

There’s no shortage of hungry mouths to feed at the local wildlife rescue.

Nature’s Nursery Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation Education, south of Whitehouse, has taken in more than 1,100 animals this year, about half of those in the past month as the busy baby season hit full tilt. About 300 orphaned or injured wild critters currently are in rehab either at the center itself or in foster homes.

“It’s pretty taxing,” executive director Steve Kiessling said. “There are times we’ve taken in 40 or 50 animals in a day.”

The center serves 18 counties in northwest Ohio.

While the first rounds of baby squirrels and rabbits are tapering off, the center’s rooms and outdoor enclosures are teeming with waterfowl, songbirds, and opossums.

Staff, interns, and volunteers are scrambling to keep everyone fed, provide special care to animals that need it, and find space for even more critters in almost every nook and cranny.

“We’re to the point where we can’t really plan our days at all,” operations manager Laura Zitzelberger said.

Managing the phone is more than a full-time task itself. Mr. Kiessling said the center receives 200 to 300 calls per day this time of year from residents asking about animals they’ve found.

“We try to do the work from the phone so people don’t have to bring animals in, and that takes time,” he said. “When we get done checking messages, there are five more. Then we call someone back and there’s three more messages. It’s just nonstop.”

While the various infant formulas, food items, and veterinary care can be pricey, staff time is by far the center’s largest expense.

“If we have a whole big lineup of animals coming in, we may ask someone to come in early or stay late,” Mrs. Zitzelberger said.

As with answering phones, feeding is more than a full-time job. Birds particularly can be problematic not because they are difficult to feed, but because they need to be fed often.

“Mammals take a lot longer to feed, but there’s hours between feedings,” Mrs. Zitzelberger said. “With birds, it only takes a few minutes but it’s constant. The birds that need to be fed the most stay in the clinic. So literally between doing cages, you’ll pop some food in, do some more cages, pop some more food in.”

Mr. Kiessling said the center survives on “half a shoestring” in the summer as expenses skyrocket, but donations take a nosedive. Things get particularly tight if the center has to pay for unexpected maintenance or equipment needs.

“You try to budget for it, but you just can’t budget for all the overages,” he said.

While orphaned little ones are the primary factor this time of year, it doesn’t stop the continued demand when it comes to injured animals. The center recently has taken in a limping immature adult peregrine falcon from Bowling Green and a couple of snapping turtles with shell injuries, in addition to several owls, great blue herons, and a Canada goose with various issues.

Mr. Kiessling said the center has not killed any animals because of the expense necessary to treat them and works hard to keep it that way.

“That’s not how we operate,” he said. “It’s our mission to rehabilitate and release them.”

Nature’s Nursery can be reached at 419-877-0060. Donations may be made at natures-nursery.org, or by sending a check to P.O. Box 2395, Whitehouse, OH, 43571.

For the original article- http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2017/06/07/Nature-s-Nursery-doesn-t-let-baby-animals-go-hungry.html

Contact Alexandra Mester: amester@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.