Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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People & Pets

The call of the wild


In-home wildlife rehabilitation


Beth Kuntz feeds a baby raccoon. Kuntz has been part of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Network of Central Iowa for two years, helping injured animals get well.

Once in a while, one comes across a wild animal and has the urge to take it home. It could simply be because it’s cute, or maybe because it’s injured. For Beth Kuntz, it’s the latter.

Kuntz, 24, is part of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Network of Central Iowa. A true pet lover, the first time Kuntz rehabbed an animal was a squirrel when she was 7. She found the group on Facebook two years ago and has been involved ever since. When Kuntz isn’t rehabbing animals at home, she’s working at the Animal Rescue League.

“I’ve always liked animals; they’ve always been a part of my life,” Kuntz says.

Those in the group do not receive any financial support or compensation, and as the website states “are paid solely in the pride and satisfaction that come from watching a rehabilitated animal re-enter the wild.” Between basic supplies, food and medical costs, rehabbing can often be costly, and members can find themselves dipping into their savings, Kuntz says. Kuntz estimates she spent around $1,000 on rehabbing costs last year. Fortunately, some veterinarians help the group with discounts.

While the 30-person group is independent, The Network also works with the Animal Rescue League and other shelters that help with wild animals. If a shelter comes across a wild animal, the staff members usually call the network. From there the network president works on placing the animal with a member.

Kuntz is currently rehabbing eight animals: three raccoons and five squirrels, most of them babies. The most she has ever rehabbed at one time is 15. She has five cages to accommodate her rehab residents.

“Animals, they should never be raised by themselves,” she says. “If they are by themselves, they tend to bond closely with humans, which is not what we want.”

One benefit of the group and their meetings is that it offers members a chance to see if anyone else is rehabbing the same animal so that they can be rehabbed together.

While the babies Kuntz rehabs are undoubtedly adorable, she can’t get too attached and avoids naming them. Adults are different beasts.

Kuntz often rehabs squirrels.

Kuntz often rehabs squirrels.

“They are a wild animal, and they’re not going to like you at all; they don’t understand you’re trying to help,” she says.

Beth has rehabilitated rabbits, opossums, groundhogs and field mice. Other members have rehabbed skunks, deer and foxes. Of the animals she has come in contact with, squirrels are her favorite.

“They’re just funny to watch,” she says.

To learn more about the Wildlife Rehabilitation Network of Central Iowa, check out their website at ♦


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