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Into the Wild WILDLIFE EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION CENTER W hen we hit the pause button on our busy lives to get out in nature, we are rewarded with glimpses of golden eagles, deer, foxes and bobcats that dwell in South County parks and open space lands. But from time to time, they need a helping hand. We are fortunate to have the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center to fulfill this role. Every year, the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (WERC) takes in an average of 200 native wild animals. WERC is both an acute care center for the sick and injured, and a nurturing center for orphaned wildlife too young to survive on their own. As a temporary refuge, the organization’s goal is not to tame, but to rehabilitate and then release healthy animals back into their native habitat to live wild and free.  to fly about inside WERC’s 100-foot aviary. Nicknamed “Morgan” before her release, the eagle was outfitted with an identification band on her leg and a tiny telemetry backpack that helps WERC track her movements. An orphaned three-month-old “owlet” was delivered to WERC for some surrogate mothering from Luna, an adult great horned owl and one of WERC’s official “ambassador” animals. While Luna herself cannot be released back into the wild, she is an apt teacher able to show her feathered students the ins and outs of life as a raptor. The young owl grew and thrived under the care of Luna and WERC staff. When the time was right she was released back into the wild. Caring for the Wild Things WERC educational outreach touches more than 2,500 children each year. Special emphasis is placed on the importance of wildlife safety, habitat preservation, wilderness awareness and, as WERC President Joy Joyner describes it, “the need to co-exist peacefully with our native wildlife.” To raise community awareness and support for wildlife rehabilitation and education services, WERC teams up with a variety of organizations including Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Sustainable Agriculture Education, the Discovery Museum and the Rosicrucian Museum. Amazing Ambassadors The science of wildlife rehabilitation is constantly evolving. WERC meets new requirements for animal care, feeding, handling and physical therapy through staff education and training. Today, WERC is the only South Santa Clara County facility licensed by both the U.S. and California Departments of Fish and Wildlife Service to care for native wildlife. It has also received accreditation by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for meeting facilities standards and the care and caging of wildlife for rehabilitation. WERC’s best practice models for rehabilitation and release of birds of prey and bobcats are increasingly being adopted by other agencies. When an orphan bobcat cub was found, weak and struggling, on a neighborhood street in Fairfield, California, a concerned resident brought it to the nearby Suisun Wildlife Center. The cub weighed only 2.5 pounds and was infested with ticks, fleas and mites. Aware of WERC’s successes with orphaned bobcats, the Suisun staff brought the cub in. Animal Care Coordinator Colleen Grzan and other WERC staff cared for “Fairfield” through a proven program designed to imprint bobcat rather than human traits on the cub. For example, the caregiver always dresses in a full-body, fur-covered suit and gloves that have a camouflage pattern and are rubbed with feline urine to mask human scent. The caregiver never speaks or walks upright when working with a cub, but instead mimics the behavior of an adult bobcat to prompt the cub’s natural instincts to play, hunt or hide. Four months after Fairfield’s arrival, WERC released him, full-grown and feisty at 18.7 pounds, back into the wild. According to WERC’s Education Outreach Coordinator Anna Venneman, “Our bobcat anti-imprinting, rehab and release program has been so successful that China is using our protocol to work with pandas, and the Monterey Aquarium is adapting it to rehabilitate sea otters.” On another \[ۋH[X[H[XYH\Y[Y\HXY][XHY\][\ܘ\Hو\[ۋBXYH\XH X\\]K[\\\[ۈ]\Y SH8(SԑSS8(SPTSZHH[ۈH[YB[ܙ[[ X\YT\[YHYH[ Hۙ][YB][H\Y[[]Y]\H[\X\ [ۙ]\B\Hܙ[^][۸&\^X]]H\X܋[\[[[X\Y܂܈[ܙ[[[X\و[Y\K[H\Y[X\ق[YܛXH[[܈[YHZX[]]ܜˈݙ\HYX\[[\Y]H[YY[][]H[[Y[Yۘ][ۜ[[Y\[\\[[[X[ۜܜ\\[\[Y\ܝ[]Y\[[[X[\K[H\ۈ\X\ܘ[ܚ][[[Z\[][˂SKUQT MBZ^KBL