Under Water

Southwest Florida, you are welcome.  I now have complete control over the weather and you can thank me for the ending the drought.  In the past, all I had to do was plan a trip to the beach and it would guarantee rainy, chilly weather.  Apparently, I now have additional bows in my precipitation quiver.  Recently, any mention of the words “release” or “yardwork” are also met with a Noah-worthy deluge.

Peace River Wildlife Center is particularly busy at this time of year.  We routinely admit 10 to 20 patients every day during spring and summer—with baby bird and mammal seasons in full swing, we are inundated with displaced, orphaned, and kidnapped babies of every species.  We also see injured breeding adults, as they make the same ill-informed choices we did during our wistful youths, so intent on that one driving urge that they forget to watch for vehicles or dodge the chainsaw.  With the drought now ebbing, many animals are moving from one location to another to find the ideal water source at just the right level, again indifferent to traffic and obstacles.

It is imperative that PRWC release any rehabbed animal as soon as it is ready to go, so that we can free up the minimal cage space we have for incoming patients.  But lately, it seems as if all I have to do is utter the “R” word, and the storm clouds roll in.  Releasing the babies we have tenderly cared for over the past few weeks to months is difficult enough under the best of circumstances, but kicking them out into a tropical storm is terrifying for them and for us. 

Osprey healing from a fall from the nest on a blustery day
Osprey healing from a fall from the nest on a blustery day

So, on a recent decent day, I found myself putting over 220 miles on my car, booting out all the releases I could.  I went from Punta Gorda Isles to Charlotte Harbour to Murdock to Nocatee to Arcadia to Naples, releasing red-shouldered hawks, osprey, gopher tortoises, and song birds.  The Grateful Dead have had shorter tours than that.  FYI, that is roughly the same distance between Punta Gorda and Key West or Freeport, Bahamas—lovely destinations for a weekend getaway (traveling as the crows flies; your mileage may vary depending on how adamant you are about staying on paved roads, or roads at all for that matter.)

While some headway was made, I spent most of an entire day on the road.  My next book will be a compendium of road etiquette.  Use your turn signal, be polite and conscientious on the road, do not use your flashers in the rain, learn how to navigate a traffic circle and a four-way stop.  I’m actually thinking of changing professions.  I want to be a traffic officer so I can shoot people who don’t obey traffic laws (at least the ones I think are important.)  That’s a thing, right?  Can I at least shoot out their tires?  This is why I don’t drive any more than absolutely necessary.  I was road-raging long before road rage was cool.

Of course, by the time I got back to PRWC we had admitted 18 more patients to replace the 23 I had released.  And so it goes.  Not to mention, I had spent all of the good weather doing work-related chores.  When I finally got home and tried to mow my back yard, I got two whole passes done before it started raining on me again.  I’m going to need better weather or taller pets—my dachshunds are getting lost in the tall weeds of their dog yard.  Now that I have mastered rain-making, maybe I will work on stopping the grass growing at precisely 2.5 inches using the power of positive thought.  And maybe get that pet goat.

by- Robin Jenkins, DVM