2016 by the numbers

The numbers are in and the winner is…Peace River Wildlife Center and the Charlotte Harbor community!  Our year-end reports have been tabulated and the numbers of patients seen at PRWC have set some records—both good and bad.

The total number of patients seen in the 2016 calendar year is 2,246.  Our patient intake numbers have been climbing at an average of just over 10% every year.  This is the bad news for our native wildlife populations.  According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Charlotte County has grown at a rate of 8.2% from 2010 to 2015.  As we build more homes and increase our population density, we displace and injure more wildlife.

This year PRWC saw 1,041 birds, 1,027 mammals, and 178 reptiles.  Since PRWC’s educational exhibits include mostly avian species, many people think we treat only birds.  Our annual intake statistics verify that we have seen approximately 46% each birds and mammals and 8% reptiles this year.  Or, as I have been known to quote, Yogi Berra-style, 50% birds, 50% mammals, and 10% reptiles.

Cara Brown examines a bobcat patient
Cara Brown examines a bobcat patient

Interestingly (if anyone is still awake at this point in the numbers game), we saw a total of 169 different species—22 different types of reptiles, 25 types of mammals, and 122 different species of birds.  Many of those different species have wildly variable anatomy, dietary requirements, and housing needs.  Our rehab team, led by Cara Brown, does an amazing job of keeping all the minutia straight.  Most of the time.  There is the occasional lapse, like when some fool put broccoli and papaya in with the bobcat’s food.  Being obligate carnivores, all species of cats eat only meat.  In my defense (yes, the “fool” was me!), my cats at home will ignore a full dish of kitty kibble and threaten to gnaw off my arm to get at whatever I am eating—vanilla yogurt, banana, peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  My cats, Thor and Loki, apparently have not read the book about they are supposed to eat either.  I just thought the little “kitty” at work should have a variety of things to turn her nose up at also.

With a wide range of species showing up daily, we do see some repeat offenders.  The top three species by admission numbers for mammals were—eastern cottontail (360), Virginia opossum (207), and eastern grey squirrel (176).  Birds that topped the charts were—mourning dove (155), northern mockingbird (99), and common grackle (62).  Our number one reptile species is the gopher tortoise (94).

Eastern cottontail rabbits at release
Eastern cottontail rabbits at release

One of the most important figures at year’s end is the outcome of our patients.  Overall PRWC had a positive outcome for 46% of our patients, and a negative outcome for 54%.  A positive outcome includes patients that recovered well enough to be released or were transferred to another facility for continued care or to become an education resident.  Factoring the circumstance that some patients are dead on arrival, or very nearly so, when we look at the outcome numbers after removing patients that do not survive the first 24 hours of care, our positive outcome increases to 80%.  That number is increased over last year and that is definitely the good news.

PRWC’s staff of rehabbers and volunteers does an awesome job of juggling too many patients in too little space with antiquated equipment.  We all look forward to our new facility that is in the planning stages now, but in the meantime, the injured animals can’t wait to be treated.  Anyone interested in helping make the new facility a reality can contact PRWC to inquire about naming opportunities.  We have had a few generous donors commit to several of the enclosures already, but still have habitats and other opportunities available for naming rights.  You could have the habitat of your favourite bird or the education center or surgical suite named after yourself or a loved one.  Every upgrade in equipment and space increases the chances of the patients that are admitted to PRWC.

by- Robin Jenkins, DVM

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