For nearly 16 years, Captain John Makowsky, a New Hampshire lobsterman, enjoyed the company of a black-backed gull he nicknamed Red Eye, who visited him whenever he was hauling out or setting traps. When Red Eye showed up one day with an injured leg, Makowsky captured the bird and brought it to the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, Maine. “Red Eye made a remarkable recovery, and John was able to release her a few weeks later,” says Sarah Kern, the center’s community engagement specialist. “It’s a wonderful example of how we can all make a difference.” Here are a few other wildlife rehabilitation centers in Northern New England:
Established by a veterinarian in 1986, the Center for Wildlife of Cape Neddick, Maine, first operated out of a trailer with no running water. Today, it has a modest 1,200-square-foot building and a campus of 45 enclosures. It receives about 2,000 patients each year, representing more than 190 species. The center also provides educational outreach programs to the local community. (207) 361-1400; thecenterforwildlife.org.
The Vermont Institute of Natural Science, established in 1972, specializes in birds and sits on 47 acres along the Ottauquechee River in Quechee, Vermont. By August 2020, the institute had already taken in 780 birds, breaking its 2019 mark of 705. Its Nature Center has indoor and outdoor animal exhibits, live bird programs, and interpretive nature trails. (802) 359-5000; vinsweb.org.
Since 1991, the Elaine Conners Center for Wildlife in Madison, New Hampshire, has treated a menagerie that includes baby birds, infant squirrels, and orphaned fawns. While not currently open to visitors, the center hopes to eventually offer public programs at its new Butler Education Center. (603) 367-9453; elaineconnerscenterforwildlife.org.
If you find a wild animal that needs help, call a local wildlife rehabilitator immediately. These skilled professionals help injured, sick, or orphaned animals before safely returning them to the wild. They receive specialized training and must pass written and oral exams to become licensed by state and federal agencies. Many are volunteers, and many nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation centers rely solely on donations. While rehabilitators can typically administer basic first aid to animals, they also work closely with veterinarians, many of whom also donate their time. The Humane Society website has a state-by-state list of rehabilitators at tinyurl.com/wildrehab21.