Belmont County Wildlife Rehabilitation Center opens | News, sports, jobs

Photo provided – This squirrel was rehabilitated and later returned to the wild by Veronia Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Bethesda.

PITSDA – Now that spring is here, we’re going to start seeing more and more wildlife all around us.

Belmont County’s newest – and only – wildlife rehabilitation organization is urging people to do what they can to help conserve local wildlife and shares tips on how to do so.

Veronia Wildlife Reversion, a Bethesda nonprofit, is now open and ready to help local wildlife. The organization is the only one of its kind in Belmont County and the surrounding area. Jordan Castillo, owner and rehabilitator, began operations in November and recently leased 12 acres of property where the organization will continue its efforts. Currently, Castello is rehabilitating two red squirrels that will soon be released into the wild, which is the ultimate goal for every animal under their care.

“My goal is to make sure that every animal has everything it needs and is well looked after and then can go and live a fully functional life in nature,” she said.

Castillo said spring is the “busy season” for animals and she’s excited to lend a helping hand wherever they need it. FWR is a Class I rehabilitation facility, which means it can help rehabilitate squirrels, rabbits, opossums, songbirds and waterfowl. At this time, they are unable to handle Class II, or rabies-carrying mammals, such as raccoons, foxes, bats, and birds of prey.

Castillo said there are a few tips to keep in mind if a baby animal is spotted: Try to reunite him with his mother; If you can’t do this, don’t give him food or water. And don’t “hug” a wild animal.

“The most important thing,” she said, “is if they can bring him back to the nest he came from, then do so by all means.”

The most common misconception that Castillo said she hears is “If you touch a child, the mother will not care.” this is not true. If reunification is not possible, she recommends contacting a rehabilitation center for help.

“That’s what we’re here for. I’ll take it in and the best I can do through other means of reunion or if I have to, I’ll take it and raise it up. But their moms are the best moms,” she said.

If a reunion is not possible, Castillo said not to feed or water the animal while it awaits rehabilitation.

“Don’t try to give her anything because that puts us behind what we have to do. We’re going to have to get rid of what we give them. The stuff off the farm shelves is really bad for them. There are special things we can access that are designed specifically for these animals,” she said.

“Keep it in a warm, dark, dry place and call your nearest rehab worker, which is me in Belmont County.”

Castillo said he never “cuddles” a wild animal, even if it’s passive enough to allow it to. Just because the animal is still does not mean that it is satisfied; Instead, Castillo said, he’s “scared to death.” As in rabbits, this fear can actually cause the animal to have a heart attack.

“Doing this to any animal is actually harmful and it also puts their nerves under stress, especially when they are babies. Handling as little as possible and putting them in a dark, quiet, dry place is the best thing.”

If someone encounters a dead opossum on the side of the road and is brave enough to do so, Castillo suggests checking the animal’s sack for living children.

“It’s really worth it because it’s so beneficial for our environment. Not only are they what I like to call nature’s litter men, but they eat a lot of ticks, which is very good for us as well,” she said.

With mowing season upon us, Castillo recommends residents check for areas of discoloration in their yards before beginning yard work. She said to check any discolored area for a hole or den where the children could be. If there are children or you think there may be children, she recommends covering the area with a tote or small laundry basket while you complete your yard work. She said that if these children are injured in any way, they should contact a rehabilitation center so she can assess the situation.

Although the organization cannot care for Class II animals, Castillo recommends continuing to contact them for help with them as they are able to take them to an appropriate rehabilitation center.

When it comes to deer, Castillo said, Ohio has very strict laws. She recommends leaving any fur where they are if they are found alone.

“If someone sees a fawn in their yard, which is the call I get most of the time, just leave them alone. Mom will come back. Moms find quiet, safe places to let the kids sit, sometimes for hours. She’ll come back and get them and take them with her,” she added, adding That if the mother has died and the antelope remains in the area until the next day, call her to see what can be done. However, she said the organization is limited in what it can do.

Castillo also reminds residents that it is illegal to harbor wildlife for longer than necessary.

Castillo said she cares about the animals and wants to do everything she can to preserve their way of life.

“The reason I started doing this was because there was no one in Belmont County to do it, and it was the closest in Muskingum County. These are precious moments to be exploited, traveling all the way there for an hour and a half, and a lot of time can be saved in hydrating the animal.” We need this here, and I want people to have a place to take the animals.”

For more information, questions, or for assistance with rehabilitating local wildlife, call the organization at 740-921-3594 or visit their Facebook page.

Rehabilitation center depends only on donations to work. Anyone interested in donating to the nonprofit can do so by mailing checks to PO Box 138, Bethesda, OH 43719 or by calling the phone number listed above.

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